01 November, 2007
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday underlined the need for "policies of dialogue, the search for mutually acceptable solutions and good neighbor relations" in the west Balkans, stressing that the region was once again faced with "serious issues for its present and future".
She was speaking in Athens just one day before the start of a new round of UN-mediated talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in New York, in order to arrive at a solution in their dispute over FYROM's use of the name 'Macedonia'.
Greece objects to the name 'Macedonia' for FYROM on historical grounds and because it is also the name of a northern Greek province on the border of landlocked FYROM, saying that this could give rise to future irredentist claims against Greece.
The Greek foreign minister made the comments while inaugurating the "Ambassadors' Forum" - a new ministry initiative providing a forum to discuss current affairs - with Portuguese Ambassador Carlos Neves Ferreira as first speaker.
She emphasized the need for constructive effort to find areas of consensus and common views while noting that Greece, as one of the oldest members of the European Union and NATO, was aware of the importance of working constructively to this end. "Only in this way can there exist and be forged solidarity between partners and allies," she said.
"It is our deepest conviction that insistence on sterile and futile obstinacy prolongs harmful outstanding issues and becomes the source of serious problems," Bakoyannis added.
In his address to the forum, Portugal's ambassador referred to his country's policy in the Mediterranean and Africa and the relations of the two areas with Europe in general. He said that the Lisbon Declaration of December will be a landmark in relations between the two sides of the Mediterranean, north and south, but refused to comment on an initiative by French President Nicholas Sarkozy for the creation of a Mediterranean union on the grounds that the details of this were not yet known.
He also called for better coordination between the various initiatives and forums existing between the Mediterranean north and south, such as the Barcelona Process or Mediterranean dialogue on security within NATO, in order to better deal with joint challenges to security, peace, development, illegal immigration and energy cooperation.
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will depart for London on Monday for talks with her British counterpart David Milibad on a wide range of issues.
On Monday, Bakoyannis will also give a speech at the London School of Economics, followed on Tuesday by an address at St. Anthony’s College.
The Greek foreign minister will also meet with the organising committee for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
Source: Athens News Agency