30 November, 2007
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held talks on Thursday with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, on the sidelines of the OSCE's ministerial session in the Spanish capital.
"The government of Skopje must show greater sensitivity for Greek public opinion and for the Greek government and realise that some of their actions were very provocative," Burns said after his meeting with Bakoyannis.
Referring to the same issue, the Greek minister said that "we are ready to attend constructive dialogue and negotiating and we are expecting Mr. (UN special mediator Matthew) Nimetz in Athens in the coming days with this spirit."
Burns made the following statement to the Greek press: "I had a long discussion with Mrs. Bakoyannis, whom I listened to very carefully. I mentioned to her that that I told the Foreign Minister of FYROM (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), A. Milososki that we believe that the prime minister and the government of Skopje must show greater sensitivity for Greek public opinion and for the Greek government. They must realise first that some of their actions were very provocative. Having lived many years in Greece, I understand the importance of the issue for the people and the government of the country. We requested from Mr. Nimetz to become involved again and we hope that a solution will be found that both countries can support. The government of Skopje must realise that it has the responsibility of meeting Greece halfway and show sensitivity for Greek concerns. Some actions by Skopje were unnecessarily provocative. We realise the importance of the heritage of Macedonia in Greek history, the modern-day political stage, in the hearts and minds of the Greeks. We hope that progress will be achieved and you must be certain that the United States will support a solution agreed to by both sides."
The two officials also discussed the Middle East issue and the Annapolis conference, from which the Greek mission arrived directly in Madrid, as well as the question of Kosovo.
Burns praised Greek presence at the international conference on the Middle East, saying that "I am pleased that Greece participated in the Annapolis conference as a full member. I am grateful to Mrs. Bakoyannis for the support she is offering for efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians, for the creation of a Palestinian state after 60 years and the creation of conditions of security in Israel.
The role of Greece, which is being involved in this procedure, is very important. The Annapolis conference was a great success. We must continue the hard work now, continue this process and achieve further progress."
Referring to Kosovo, Burns said that efforts are being made, in the framework of the OSCE, to achieve a good development on the issue.
He conceded that "the coming months will be very difficult since there will be a transitional period there" and expressed the hope that "this will happen peacefully, with stability and there will be no violence."
Commenting on her meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, she said that they ascertained the very good level of economic and political cooperation and discussed the agenda of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis's visit to Moscow.
Asked by Greek reporters to comment on Greece's reaction in the event that the government of Skopje "makes some move for the sake of impression" by lifting the renaming of Skopje's international airport, an eventuality that the neighbouring country is reportedly considering, according to press reports, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said that "such a thing would not constitute a reason for the reversal of the Greek position, of Greek policy, that is focused on the essence of the issue."
Skopje has renamed the airport to "Alexander the Great" provoking Greece's strong reaction.
Source: Athens News Agency