Athens keeping eye on Balkan developments


In the wake of the recent ethnically motivated clashes in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the political changes in Albania, Greece is keeping a wary eye on developments in both neighboring countries.

FYROM has been in the grip of a political stalemate since December as ethnic Slav nationalists object to the formation of a new goverment by Social Democrats and parties representing ethnic Albanians.

Athens, which has been locked in a name dispute with FYROM since the 1990s, has opted to keep its distance, wary that nationalists in the neighboring country will want to exploit any comments coming out of Greece.

Meanwhile, Washington on Monday – after the visit to FYROM by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Brian Yee – urged Skopje to end the political stalemate and allow the formation of a new government.

Athens is also hoping that Germany’s recognition of Talat Xhaferi as Parliament speaker will also help defuse tensions.

With regard to Albania and the claims of Cham community vis-a-vis Greece, Athens’s concerns are somewhat alleviated by the moderate stance of new Albanian President Ilir Meta who has helped establish channels of communication with the Greek government after the more hostile stance of Prime Minister Edi Rama.