NEWS

Athens presses Skopje to keep roads open

Athens has protested strongly to Skopje that it will under no circumstances accept disruption in its road link with Europe because of events in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday. What we are interested in as a country, and is necessary for us, is that we under no circumstances will allow the interruption of important routes for our country, but also for the European Union, in the Balkans, Panayiotis Beglitis told reporters yesterday. This is a a very clear message to all sides involved, he added. The spokesman was referring to barriers put up by Slav-Macedonians angered by what they claim is NATO’s bias toward ethnic Albanians, resulting in blockage of the major supply route between Skopje and the UN-administered Serb province of Kosovo. Various excuses cannot be expected, Beglitis said. Free movement has to be guaranteed by all the legal authorities of Skopje. He said that the Foreign Ministry had issued a strong protest through the Greek ambassador in Skopje at the closing of the roads toward Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia by Slav-Macedonian groups. The protest stressed the interest of Greece and the European Union in general for the immediate intervention of the authorities and the opening of the roads. It noted also the responsibility undertaken in this regard by Skopje in the stability agreement that it has signed with the European Union. Sources say that after the intervention of the authorities the road to Kosovo was reopened. Yesterday the Parliament in Skopje, after six days of emotional debate, voted 91-19 (with two abstentions) to adopt the general framework of a peace accord granting more rights to the country’s ethnic Albanians. The situation in FYROM will be discussed at the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels tomorrow and Sunday. Foreign Minister George Papandreou is expected to brief his colleagues on efforts to find a permanent name for Greece’s neighbor and the policy that Athens is following to this end. Last week, President Boris Trajkovski called on the international community to recognize his country as the Republic of Macedonia. Meanwhile, the Greek general staff announced yesterday a major army and air force exercise in the Greek region of western Macedonia from September 10-14. According to finds from the only other known – but much later – Final Neolithic settlement, in the Cyclades on the Kephala promontory on Kea, island communities at the time consisted of farmers, shepherds and fishermen who ate cereals, beef, goats, sheep, pigs and fish, and were skilled potters who also produced fine-quality marble vases and were buried in arranged cemeteries.