Washington (ANA-MPA/A. Ellis)
The FYROM “name issue” and US policy in the western Balkans as well as energy issues were expectedly broached by former minister and top main opposition PASOK party MP Evangelos Venizelos, during a meeting here with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza.
Venizelos, who is visiting Washington and New York on private visit, referred to a “common front” by almost all political parties in Greece as regards to the “name issue”. He also reportedly conveyed his view on Washington’s stance vis-à-vis FYROM with a view to a future mutually acceptable solution.
Venizelos, who vied for PASOK’s leadership last November, stressed that Greece has exercised a “positive pressure” on Skopje and is ready to offer “positive assistance” as soon as a solution is reached, which will open the way to FYROM’s NATO membership and the acceleration of negotiations for its EU accession, considering that the land-locked country’s size and type of economy will not translate into any burden for the Union.
He also underlined that the United States will have to clarify its policy in the western Balkans, particularly regarding Serbia, and taking under serious consideration the Albanian minority in FYROM, stressing that it corresponds to 35 percent of the country’s population and is in favour of a composite name because “citing the need for stability, it is more interested in the country’s accession into the EU and NATO,” he said.
In terms of energy, Venizelos stated that they had a detailed discussion on the plans and construction course of the oil and natural gas pipeline projects, adding that Greece is in favour of alternative sources of energy but its approach does not fully coincide with current US administration views.
“…They had a good discussion about some bilateral issues, including Mr. Bryzaʼs recent trip to Athens. I think they also did have an opportunity to touch on relations between Greece and the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ on the ‘name issue’ and otherwise have a good conversation about the general … (issues) between the US and Greece,” according to State Department spokesman deputy spokesman Tom Casey, who used the “constitutional name” favored by the neighbouring country, in response to a Greek reporter’s question.
Venizelos also met with US House Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Senateʼs Foreign Relation Committee Chairman Joe Biden and Senator Robert Menendez.
On Monday April 21st, Evangelos Venizelos visited the American Hellenic Instituteʼs headquarters, the Hellenic House. He was accompanied by Karolos Gadis, Deputy Chief of Mission to the Greek Embassy in Washington D.C., and Christina Simantiraki, Political Officer of the Greek Embassy. While at Hellenic House, the Minister met with members of the AHI leadership, including AHI President, Gene Rossides, Chairman James Marketos, AHI General Counsel Nick Karambelas, and Executive Director Nick Larigakis.
Mr. Venizelos had the opportunity to visit AHI, the day before giving a lecture at the Woodrow Wilson Center Southeast Europe Project. AHI was a co-sponsor of this lecture.
During the meeting at AHI, the discussion centered on items of mutual interest.
Mr. Venizelos briefed the leadership on issues such as the FYROM name issue, western Thrace, Cyprus, the Aegean and the importance of promoting Greek issues to the Greek American community, and to the community at-large.
“We were honored to have Minister Venizelos visit Hellenic House. We look forward to working together on issues of mutual interest,” said AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis.