© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
06 March, 2001
Greece on Monday expressed its "grave concern" over growing Albanian separatist violence in Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), while stressing that Athens wants to contribute to settling the crisis in every possible way.
"We will contribute in every way and wish to give every kind of assistance to the neighboring country (FYROM)," Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis told reporters only hours after the latest border skirmish between Albanian guerrillas and FYROM soldiers, as well as Bulgaria's offer to its western neighbor of "technical support".
The foreign ministry's statement came as Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou began a visit to Vienna, where the issue of growing Balkan instability due to Kosovo-based violence initially dominated talks.
Official's reports out of Skopje noted that FYROM's security forces exchanged fire with ethnic Albanian gunmen occupying a village on the border with Kosovo, while shelling could be heard coming from near the predominately Albanian remote mountain hamlet of Tanusevci.
Later wire reports stated that Albanian guerrillas had retreated from the area back into Kosovo before ditching their weapons and distinctive black uniforms.
On his part, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas echoed the foreign ministry, reiterating its condemnation of what he called "the terrorist activity" by the Albanian guerrillas in the region, while saying Athens was ready back FYROM's efforts for peace in the region.
Reppas added that Athens would also bring the matter before various international organizations and demand that International Law is applied.
Amid the growing concern about guerrilla activity on FYROM's northern border, Reppas mentioned that the "name issue" - the last outstanding difference preventing a full normalization of already excellent relations between Athens and Skopje - does not affect current developments, although they may delineate the issue within "its proper dimensions", on the part of Skopje.
Beglitis, meanwhile, said Papandreou was in constant contact with officials in FYROM and with the EU's Swedish presidency.
Stressing Greece's support for territorial integrity and security in the region, the foreign ministry spokesman said the international community should accord the matter the due seriousness and should send a clear message that uncontrollable situations would not be tolerated.
The government in Skopje, he added, had been in touch with Athens and asked for assistance in dealing with the actions of Albanian extremists. Skopje had also asked for the UN Security Council to be convened.
The spokesman said that Athens was in favor of the full implementation of resolution 1244, because instability in the region undermined territorial integrity and affected Greece's interests as well.
In addition, he said Greece was adamant in its support for FYROM's borders during talks with EU and NATO officials. According to Beglitis, this was also one of the key issues discussed by Papandreou in his recent meeting with new US Secretary of State Colin Powell on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting.
Source: Athens News Agency