NEWS

FYROM reference triggered Greek walkout

Greek officials walked out of a meeting of foreign ministers from NATO member states in December after protesting a document referring to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) by its constitutional name, which is the subject of a dispute with Athens.

Kathimerini has seen a letter of complaint that then Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos (photo) sent to US Secretary of State John Kerry after American officials refused to change the reference to the “Republic of Macedonia” in the documents. Venizelos said he was “deeply disappointed” by the behavior of the US, which chaired the meeting, arguing that it showed a lack of respect for the interim agreement between Athens and Skopje and would make it more difficult for the United Nations to mediate an agreement between the two countries.

The Foreign Ministry felt the move was specifically designed to put pressure on Greece over the longstanding dispute, according to sources. Athens, however, insists that the obstacles to reaching a solution, which the Greeks want to consist of a compound name with a geographical qualifier that would be used in all cases, lies in Skopje rather than Greece.

Despite this recent obstacle, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Poposki agreed on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Riga on March 7 that the two countries should embark on some confidence-building measures.