30 May, 2008
Greece's decision to walk out of a Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) meeting taking place in Washington was in line with United Nations resolutions regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) participation in multilateral meetings and standing Greek policy on this issue, the Greek foreign ministry emphasised on Thursday.
"Greece's stance and its decision to withdraw from [Wednes-day's] meeting of the initiative against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (PSI) in Washington confirms that Greece has a consistent and reliable policy on the issue of the neighbouring country's name, which is based on the relevant decision of the UN Security Council," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told reporters.
The spokesman noted that the PSI was a multilateral initiative based on the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which meant that all previous decisions made by the UN concerning the international name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) applied, including UNSCR 817 and UNSCR 845 that refer to the negotiations between Greece and FYROM for settling the name dispute.
"It is, therefore, clear that on the specific issue there is a divergence of the Greek position from that of the US administration," the spokesman added.
Greece and FYROM are currently engaged in UN-mediated talks for a settlement of their dispute over FYROM's use of the name 'Macedonia', which Greece sees as harbouring irredentist ambitions against its own northern province of the same name and the area that more closely approximates historical Macedonia.
Regarding Greece's future participation in the PSI, the spokesman said Greece considered the initiative important and would like to participate.
"At the same time, however, [Athens] has a position that you are aware of concerning how the neighbouring country is represented at multilateral meetings and under what name it takes part," he emphasised.
Answering reporters' questions, Koumoutsakos confirmed that the foreign ministry's general secretary Aristidis Agathoklis had contacted the US embassy's charges d' affaires on Wednesday and informed him about Greece's position on this issue.
According to an ANA-MPA dispatch from Washington, the Greek delegation, headed by Athens' ambassador in Washington, on Wednesday walked out of the PSI meeting after State Department organisers replaced a name tag and materials with ones listing FYROM by its disputed constitutional name, namely, "Republic of Macedonia".
They were followed by the Cypriot delegation, which also walked out of the "5th Year PSI Anniversary Conference".
The incident took place as Bush administration national security advisor Steven Hadley was entering the conference hall.
In a written statement on the issue, a State Department spokesman said that, as organisers of the conference, Washington invited the countries taking part on the basis of the name under which the US government recognises them.
He noted that as of November 2004 (just days after the US presidential election), the Bush administration recognised FYROM as the "Republic of Macedonia", and had thus invited "Macedonia" to the conference.
"Given that the PSI is not an official event dependent on a treaty or membership," the spokesman said the US side does not consider that the invitation created a precedent.
Source: Athens News Agency