24 January, 2006
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis expressed support for the European Union aspirations of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in a letter sent to FYROM Prime Minister Vlado Buchkovski, according to a press release by Buchkovski's office on Monday.
Karamanlis' letter was in response to one sent by Buchkovski to all EU government leaders shortly before the EU Summit in mid-December 2005, requesting their support as FYROM strives for EU membership.
"Greece supports the European prospects of all neighboring countries as it strongly believes that their gradual integration into the European family will contribute to strengthening regional cooperation and good neighborly relations," Karamanlis wrote.
"At the same time, we believe that this prospect also serves as an additional incentive for reforms and policies that reinforce peace, stability and development," he added.
"It is in this spirit that we agreed with the European Commission's opinion (in November 2005) that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia be granted EU candidacy status. Of course this is a major step. Your country's European course is expected to help in finding a mutually-acceptable solution to the name issue, as is also foreseen by the European partnership relation," Karamanlis said.
FYROM was named an EU candidate following the decision taken by the EU Council on December 17 but an official start date for accession talks has yet to be set, since the EU believes that FYROM must first meet a series of criteria.
Source: Athens News Agency