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13 June, 2001
Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Tuesday if terrorists are not isolated in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) the crisis will worsen and the international community will be called on to intervene militarily to safeguard FYROM's integrity.
Papandreou was speaking to reporters after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on preparations for the European Union's Council in Goteborg, Sweden, later this week.
He said the situation in FYROM is very difficult and expressed grave concern over the escalation of hostilities, adding that if political procedures progress there is a hope of the terrorists being isolated.
On the question of FYROM's name, Papandreou reiterated that provided there is a mutually acceptable solution Greece shall be ready to proceed.
"To the degree that there shall not be one, we do not wish to destabilize the neighboring country any further," Papandreou said.
Referring to the rejection of the Nice summit's results by the Irish, Papandreou said the EU considers enlargement a strategic option which, as he said, should go ahead.
Commenting on a possible private meeting between Simitis and U.S. President George W. Bush in Brussels, Papandreou said "logically speaking such a meeting can take place because they (the two leaders) will have the opportunity to exchange some initial views."
Papandreou said the Goteborg Council would focus on developments in the Balkans, environmental and enlargement issues and cooperation between the U.S. and the EU.
Athens again rules out unilateral military presence backing Skopje:
The government reiterated on Tuesday that Athens will not unilaterally assume any military initiative in neighboring FYROM, the latest Balkan flashpoint that's brought fighting to within only a few hours drive from Greece's northern frontier.
A government spokesman told reporters during a regular press briefing that the dispatch of Greek units to the strife-torn Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) could be examined only within the framework of an international peacekeeping force - a consideration he said exists only in theory.
"It's too soon for anyone to say that international organizations are ready to take such a decision," spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.
Meanwhile, north of the border, a tenuous ceasefire was apparently still holding on Tuesday, although representatives for the Albanian insurgents that have taken up arms against the Skopje government said they were now in range of the capital and its international airport.
Reppas added that none of Greece's borderline military units has been placed on any type of higher alert status.
He also reiterated Athens' direct interest in preserving FYROM as national entity, while reminding that all current initiatives to resolve the crisis are revolving around a political and diplomatic axis.
On Monday in Luxembourg, the EU's 15 foreign ministers called for the immediate cease-fire and disarming of the Albanian groups in the Balkan country, at the end of a meeting here.
Papandreou said the EU's security and defense High Representative, Javier Solana, briefed the EU council of ministers on his talks with FYROM's leadership over the past few days.
According to Papandreou, Solana said that he succeeded in bringing back to the negotiating table both the representatives of the dominant Slav community and those of the Albanian minority that are participating in the coalition Skopje government.
In his address to the council, Papandreou stressed that Greece insisted on a specific timetable for the completion of negotiations, adding that the other EU ministers accepted his proposal.
The ministers also adopted a Greek proposal on inviting FYROM Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski to visit Luxembourg in two weeks, when the EU's council of ministers will meet again, to brief them on the results of negotiations in his country to resolve the issue.
Source: Athens News Agency