15 July, 2008
Greece on Monday briskly and unceremoniously rejected the unprecedented demands by the recently re-elected premier of the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), with a government spokesman terming references to a "minority" and restitution of property as unacceptable and merely a bid to impede talks over the still unresolved “name issue”.
Commenting on an official letter sent to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis by his FYROM counterpart Nikola Gruevski, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the latter "repeated the well-known and unacceptable statements regarding non-existent minorities etc., while he (Gruevski) also attempted to raise new obstacles to the ongoing negotiating process on the ‘name dispute’, taking place in the framework of the United Nations".
The letter was yet another in a series of eyebrow-raising statements made by top FYROM officials that are unacceptable in their tone and content, Roussopoulos stressed, adding that the obstructive, delaying tactics being employed by Skopje's leadership are being exposed on a daily basis for what they are.
"Instead of engaging in this kind of provocative activity and maneuvering, one that leads lengthy negotiating efforts to a deadlock, (the government of) Skopje ought to be trying to convince, through their actions, that they desire to resolve the problem and build good-neighbourly ties with Greece, a neighbouring country that is a member of the European Union and NATO, two institutions that FYROM hopes to join," he added.
The Greek government spokesman underlined that Athens would not be drawn into or participate in any attempt to "divert negotiations from their objective, which is none other than to find a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue."
The prime minister will send a reply to Gruevski's letter within a week, he concluded.
On his part, a spokesman for the main opposition PASOK party called the Gruevski letter to Greece's prime minister as "unworthy of comment", while charging that the Skopje government is merely continuing its pre-election delirium.
Spokesman George Papaconstantinou said the Greek side, including PASOK, had hoped that for a more productive stance by the neighbouring country so that negotiations on the only outstanding issue, namely, the "name dispute", would continue.
Concluding he said Greece should remain adamant over the position of a name with a geographic determinant for all uses.
Source: Athens News Agency