Athens.- UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz is expecting by the end of this week the interlocutors of Greece and Skopje, Ambassadors Adamantios Vasilakis and Nikola Domitrov for a new round of talks based on his latest proposal.
On Tuesday, Matthew Nimetz made a confidential proposal to both governments to resolve the dispute, which he said took into account “the historical sensitivities of the people involved.”
A document leaked to Greek daily To Vima on Thursday identified five name suggestions: Constitutional Republic of Macedonia, Democratic Republic of Macedonia, Independent Republic of Macedonia, New Republic of Macedonia and Republic of Upper Macedonia.
The name would be used in passports, treaties and Macedonia’s relations with international organisations, said the document which the Greek government later confirmed as authentic.
Greek Government rushed to inform Nimetz that Ambassador Vasilakis is ready to come to New York this week, while in Skopje, FYROM leadership was expected to make the decision on Sunday (yesterday).
Athens may accept a name like New or Upper Macedonia, while Skopje showed preference to the other three names. Ambassador Nimetz indicated that the parties could make their own name suggestions, if agreement on one from the list he proposed is impossible.
The United States increased pressure on Skopje, warning its government about the possibility to lose the upcoming NATO enlargement. U.S. officials invited Skopje to accept Nimetz proposals as a basis for further negotiation and come to New York this week with constructive proposals.
A US official told Greek News that despite strong arguments, Skopje will send Dimitrov to New York. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza told Greek News last week that US involvement in the process will intensify as the date of the NATO Summit nears.
A senior Greek Foreign Ministry source told Greek News that Dora Bakoyiannis will be in Washington on about March 20 for the White House celebration of the Greek Independence Day. Ms Bakoyiannis is expected to meet with her counterpart Condoleezza Rice and President George Bush.
“We will approach dialogue with Greece over the name issue in a way that is most appropriate for protection of the country’s state interests and preservation of the national and cultural identity”, said late Friday FYROMʼs Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki.
He presented the conclusion from the meeting of top state officials with leaders of political parties represented in the Parliament, dedicated to the latest proposal by mediator Matthew Nimetz.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday warned that “no solution means no invitation”, in a reference to the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the possibility of failure to resolve the thorny “name issue”, which would mean no invitation to the latter for membership in NATO and the EU, where Greece is a veto-wielding member.
“Without a mutually acceptable solution, there can be no relations like allies; there can be no invitation to the neighbouring country for participation in the same alliance,” Karamanlis said in Parliament, replying during the Hour of the Prime Minister to a question tabled by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on the developments in Kosovo and the Balkans.
“If the neighbouring state wishes to accede to NATO, if it truly desires to accede to the European Union, it is obliged, in practice, to prove that it can be a real ally and partner. It is obliged to prove, in practice, respect of the principles of international law. It is obliged to prove that it fulfils all of the prerequisites. It is obliged to travel the distance corresponding to it, in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to the outstanding issue regarding its name,” Karamanlis said.
Referring to the ongoing “difficult and complex” negotiations on the FYROM name issue, Karamanlis said its positive outcome would have a positive effect on the neighbouring country’s relations with Greece, “which is the oldest EU and NATO member in the region”, and would strengthen the prospect of upgrading and expanding the cooperation between the two countries, as well as contributing to progress in the region.
Replying to main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou with respect to a leak, to an Athens daily a day earlier, of the proposal submitted on Tuesday to Greek and FYROM negotiators, Karamanlis stressed that “the only thing that the leak of this document does not help is the Greek government in the difficult battle it is waging”.
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou strongly objected to any “double name” for FYROM, in an interview on all issues appearing in the Saturday edition of TA NEA newspaper, while he also called on the Greek government to “not unilaterally recognise” Kosovo.
He further spoke of PASOK’s prospects following its latest Congress, and noted an “open” possibility for cooperation with the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN), while he also said he was unwavering on the issue of transparency.
Papandreou said that PASOK, both as government in the past and as the main opposition today, explicitly ruled out the prospect of a double name for FYROM, and accused the government of “agreeing to negotiate a double-name solution”. He also described as a “most adverse development” the “unilateral recognition (by countries) of Kosovo, outside the framework of the UN”, and called on the government not to unilaterally recognise Kosovo independence.
He also endorsed the undertaking of “all the necessary initiatives in the UN and the EU for resolution of the Cyprus issue” and pledged that he will be at the side of the new President of Cyprus to emerge from this weekend’s run-off election, both as president of PASOK and as president of Socialist International (SI).
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga was the central speaker at a demonstration and protest march to the European Union offices and the US Embassy in central Athens on Saturday regarding the developments in the Balkans.
The demonstration and march were organised by the KKE and its youth organisation KNE.
“Kosovo is one more result of imperialistic policies, with the singularity that it comprises an American protectorate with a European army,” Papariga said, addressing demonstrators gathered outside Athens University in downtown Athens.
“However, not only is imperialistic war tragic, but also imperialistic peace, which closes the mouths of the peoples,” she said, and called on the Greek government to not recognise Kosovo independence and to not approve Greek participation “in the new occupation army in the region”.
She spoke of a commencement of mass mobilisations in the Balkans in order to avert “the climate of war being cultivated by the major powers, in the name of their anti-popular interests”.
Referring also to the FYROM name issue, Papariga accused the government of “lying about the exercise of a veto on the name issue” because “it is playing its own game with the US and the EU”.
The demonstrators marched afterwards to the EU offices on central Vassilissis Sophias Avenue, with the main slogan “Rejection of US and NATO”, and then on to the US Embassy on the same street.