NEWS

Premier dangles FYROM veto

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for the first time yesterday made known his views on the proposals by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz on the Macedonia name dispute and warned that Greece would block the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's bid to join NATO unless a mutually acceptable solution is found. Speaking in Parliament, Karamanlis said, «Without a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, there can be no invitation to participate in the same alliance.» The premier said that «zero hour» had almost been reached. FYROM is hoping to be granted membership of NATO at a summit in April. «Our positions, arguments and the means at our disposal are well known,» said Karamanlis, hinting at the possible use of Greece's veto powers at the NATO summit in Bucharest. «If the neighboring country really wants to join NATO and the European Union, it has to show in practice that it can be a real ally and partner,» the prime minister told MPs. «It has to go its own share of the distance so we can reach a mutually acceptable solution to the outstanding name issue.» Karamanlis came under attack from opposition leaders for the leaking of Nimetz's proposals to a daily newspaper. «You have dealings with the media but you do not trust the political parties,» said PASOK leader George Papandreou, who has in the past served as foreign minister. «This leak does not help the Greek government at all. As a former foreign minister, with plenty of experience of documents being leaked, you should fully understand what I mean,» Karamanlis replied. On the issue of Kosovo, the premier said that his government would make a decision «in the near future» on whether to recognize the province, which declared independence last Sunday. He defended the government's decision to maintain Greece's presence in the European peacekeeping force in the region. «We are not happy with the developments [in Kosovo],» said Karamanlis. «But we are also not happy to see American flags fluttering in Kosovo and Russian ones in Serbia.»

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