Athens focuses on Cyprus and FYROM during Mogherini visit

Athens focuses on Cyprus and FYROM during Mogherini visit

Turkey, Cyprus and the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) were the key issues that the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini discussed with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias in Athens Friday.

According to government sources, Tsipras told the EU’s top diplomat during their meeting that Turkey’s potential membership of the Union has to be dependent on a solution to the Cyprus issue.

The semi-state Athens-Macedonian News Agency reported that in comments before their meeting, Mogherini thanked Tsipras for Greece’s efforts in trying to reach an agreement during the recent reunification talks in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana. “The EU remains fully committed to finding a viable positive solution to the Cyprus problem. It is a priority for me personally and for the whole Union,” she reportedly added.

Following talks with Kotzias, Mogherini said that her participation in the Crans-Montana talks has given her the impression that there are grounds to believe that the peace process can be revived “when the political circumstances are suitable.”

The EU diplomat also stressed the importance of the Balkans and insisted that this region would be a priority for the Union. She said that she believes there will be multiple opportunities in the next months to make progress in the discussions between Athens and Skopje over the name dispute, and between Belgrade and Pristina regarding the difficulties Serbia and Kosovo have in their relationship.

Kotzias said that Greece is fully supportive of the EU’s efforts to bring the Western Balkans into the “European family.” He said that Athens backs FYROM’s goal of joining the EU as long as the name issue is resolved. The foreign minister added that he hopes the prospect of a solution will be easier now than it was in the past, referring to the recent change of government in Skopje.

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