15 February, 2008
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday addressed a Center for Strategic & International Studies discussion here regarding on the subject of "transformation of south-eastern Europe."
Former US national security advisor and CSIS Trustee Brent Scowcroft delivered an introduction of Bakoyannis, who reiterated Athens' standing position that regional stability and prosperity depend on respect of democratic principles and human rights, along with cultural and religious tolerance.
She also cited "significant progress" in terms of Turkey's reforms, saying Greece hopes that the former will contribute to a solution of the Cyprus problem so that "the European Union will meet its promises to Turkey".
Along these lines, she said Greece, as the most senior NATO and EU member-state in SE Europe, feels an obligation to help its neighbours attain Euro-Atlantic structures, as long as pre-conditions are fulfilled.
Bakoyannis called Serbia a "pivotal" country for the region, while she emphasised that any final status solution for Kosovo requires realism and must be linked with the EU's principles and democratic values related to tolerance, multi-ethnicity and multi-culturalism.
In terms of NATO's envisioned expansion, she said Croatia and Albania have achieved progress in terms of the good-neighbour criterion, something that has not occurred with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The Greek FM said that despite Athens' positive overtures vis-à-vis the landlocked former Yugoslav republic, especially in the trade and investment sector, as well as the Greek side's volition to contribute to negotiations leading to a mutually acceptable solution for the 'name issue', the Skopje government has not responded and continues efforts to "monopolise" the Macedonian identity.
Moreover, she underlined that Washington's decision in November 2004 to recognise FYROM with its "constitutional name" was an incorrect decision that upset Athens, as it sent out a "wrong message" that Skopje does not need to seek a mutually acceptable solution to the "name issue" with Greece.
In other matters, she said Greece continues to back Turkey's European prospects, making it clear, however, that no future Turkish accession is possible without the prior solution to the Cyprus problem.
Continuing on the Cyprus matter, she said Kosovo is not a precedent for a currently divided Cyprus or Turkey's Kurdish regions.
Finally, she said Athens has not decided what its final stance will be on the possibility of a declaration of independence by Kosovo, emphasizing that any decision will be taken in consultation with its partners and after a thorough assessment of the facts.
Source: Athens News Agency