13 January, 2007
Efforts to mediate in the issue over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were "affected and not in a positive way" by FYROM's recent decision to change the name of Skopje's Petrovec airport to "Alexander the Great", United Nations special mediator Matthew Nimetz said on Friday after meeting Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in Athens.
Nimetz noted that Athens' positions on the issue were "absolutely clear" and said his talks with Bakoyannis had covered the issue of FYROM's name, the interim agreement, bilateral relations between Greece and FYROM and the issue arising over the name of the Skopje airport.
The UN envoy added that he would be traveling to Skopje on Saturday in order to hold talks with the other side.
According to foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, Nimetz was given a detailed, in-depth briefing on Greece's positions by the foreign minister.
He also reiterated Greece's position in favor of "the peoples of the Balkans building a common European future, in which they look forward and not back to the distortion of the past".
He stressed that the Greek side had made several constructive steps toward finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, while pointing out that the renaming of Skopje airport to Alexander of Macedon was in contravention of the Interim Agreement between the two sides.
Earlier, Koumoutsakos had listed these constructive steps made by Greece:
"We have accepted, as a basis for negotiation, the proposal by the UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz of early 2005. We consider that the responsibility lies with the other side which, even now, can follow the example of Bulgaria and Romania and other peoples of the Balkans, who are proceeding with their gaze turned to the common European future and are not taking steps backward, persisting in a falsification of the past.
Referring to the FYROM government's decision to rename Petrovec airport, the spokesman described the move as "totally unfounded, with respect to its historical aspect, and clearly counter-productive with respect to its political aspect".
Koumoutsakos had stressed the "multiple positive effects" that the finding of a mutually acceptable solution would have, first of all on bilateral relations, which he said would have a spectacular improvement on a political and economic level, secondly on regional cooperation and stability, and thirdly on the course of the neighboring country's Euro-Atlantic aspirations "on the basis of relations of good neighborhood and trust, which comprise EU principles and an obligation of the candidate country".
To a question on whether Greece reserved its right of veto on FYROM's accession to international organizations, Koumoutsakos replied that "the Greek policy on this matter is absolutely founded on that which is provided under Article 11 of the Interim Agreement".
Visiting United Nations special mediator on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) name issue Matthew Nimetz, held a meeting on Friday afternoon with main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou.
Recent developments on the issue dominated talks between the two, while no statements were made after the meeting.
Nimetz held talks earlier in the day with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
Source: Athens News Agency