22 September, 2005
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias sent a clear message to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Wednesday night, stressing that FYROM's European prospects will be directly linked to the resolution of a dispute with Greece over the republic's official name.
Papoulias pointed out that the European Commission is due to make its recommendation concerning FYROM's accession prospects and that this will be examined by the European Council next December, during an official dinner in honor of visiting Serbia and Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic on Wednesday evening.
The president stressed Greece's steadfast support for FYROM's European course as contributing decisively to the region's stability and prosperity, but emphasized that its European prospects are directly linked to a resolution of the problem of the neighboring republic's name.
Papoulias also noted that the solution depends entirely on the leadership of Skopje, which must rise to the occasion and take into account the consequences for [FYROM's] European course.
The president also raised the issue of Skopje's rejection of a proposal put forward by UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz last spring, noting that FYROM's intransigency on the name issue has peaked in spite of support from Greece on many levels, and that it undermines the prestige of the United Nations.
Further, Papoulias said that Greece is concerned by FYROM's "insistence on monopolizing the name 'Macedonia'" and indulging in "hostile propaganda against Greece".
Finally, the president noted that Greece has exhausted all margins for flexibility and conciliation and has ignored the political cost in making major steps toward finding a mutually acceptable solution on the name issue, as dictated by the interim agreement that he himself had signed as foreign minister in 1995.
Greece objects to FYROM's use of the name 'Republic of Macedonia', adopted as the small state's name when it broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, on the grounds that it is shared by a northern Greek province of the same name and might give rise to expansionist claims against Greece in the future. Greece also disputes the claim of FYROM's Slav population to be descended from the ancient Macedonian general Alexander the Great, who was born in the Greek province of Macedonia.
Turkey' EU prospects, Cyprus issue: Papoulias also referred to Greece's support of Turkey's EU aspirations, but noted that Turkey will need to continue reforms until it fully embraces EU principles and values.
Referring to Turkey's unilateral statement refusing to recognize Cyprus, an EU member state, Papoulias said that following the EU's agreement on a response to Turkey, the latter must realize that accession negotiations require full recognition of all EU member states.
The president also referred to the Cyprus issue, emphasizing that Greece supports the resumption of UN-sponsored talks based on the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan in order to find a functional and viable solution to the problem.
He noted, however, that any new initiative must be well prepared in order to ensure the maximum probability of success.
Balkans: Regarding the referendum that will decide the future of Serbia and Montenegro, Papoulias said that Greece will respect the people's decision that will be voiced under democratic conditions.
He added that Greece, as well as the EU, believe that a united Serbia and Montenegro is the most effective way for the two peoples to achieve European integration.
Finally, the president also referred to Kosovo, emphasizing the need for ensuring the safety of non-Albanian groups, and particularly Serbs, living in Kosovo.
He also underlined the need for the adoption of measures that will ensure the safe return of thousands of refugees and displaced people to the region.
On the other hand, Papoulias added, Serbs in Kosovo must become actively involved in the region's political procedures and must grab the opportunity to have a voice in issues that concern them.
Source: Athens News Agency