20 April, 2006
Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou met here on Wednesday with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Prime Minister and President of the Social Democratic Alliance (SDSM) Vlado Buckovski.
Papandreou said they discussed, among other things, the cooperation between PASOK and the SDSM, in the context of Socialist International, FYROM's European prospects, developments related to the future status of Kosovo and the pending issue of FYROM's name.
The PASOK leader added that the two parties will set up a working group for strengthening FYROM's European prospects.
FYROM Prime Minister Buckovski said that developments in the matter of the FYROM name issue is not expected in view of the parliamentary elections which will be held in the country on July 5.
Papandreou also met with Albania's Socialist Party chairman and Tirana Mayor Edi Rama.
Later in the evening, the PASOK leader was to addressed an SDSM event marking the 15th anniversary of its foundation.
In his address, Papandreou said "the finding of a mutually acceptable solution" to the pending issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) "which will correspond to the historic and geographic reality of the region and will respect the sensitivities of both sides, is to the benefit of both countries."
The PASOK leader noted:"I believe that within the context of the European prospects, we can seek and find a mutually acceptable solution which will correspond to the historic and geographic reality of the region. Political will is required. Not only for us to find a solution, but for the political forces of both the countries to contribute, so that in the end, for us to be able to leave behind any bitterness and extremities which existed and for the two peoples to feel proud of the solution. In the end, the name should unite us and not divide us."
Papandreou supported the equal accession to the European Union of all the Balkan countries but spoke against the seeking of other models of special relations with the countries of the region.
"Our message is clear. The position of the Balkans is in the European Union. The Balkans are part of European history, but also of our common European future," Papandreou said.
The PASOK leader further stressed that the need exists for there to be close cooperation between the two countries on developments which are being currently discussed concerning the future status of Kosovo and for other regions of former Yugoslavia.
Source: Athens News Agency