Skopje joy, opposition outrage

While Skopje hailed Washington’s decision as «a great day,» opposition parties in Athens deplored the US move and attacked Costas Karamanlis’s conservative government. FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski voiced «enormous gratitude.» «This is a great day for Macedonia, a great day for all its citizens and all Macedonians wherever they live,» he said. «This is a victory that the United States has recognized Macedonia under her constitutional name.» He added that Skopje is «determined to continue to work on building friendly and neighborly relations» with Greece. In Athens, PASOK main opposition party leader George Papandreou described the decision as «unilateral, unacceptable and with possible repercussions for the broader region.» But he also blasted the New Democracy government, claiming it has led Greece to international isolation and diplomatic defeats on relations with Turkey, the Cyprus issue and FYROM. «The government’s responsibility is massive,» Papandreou said. «We now receive regular slaps from abroad. We were once leading actors, and are now extras.» The Communist Party complained of US «imperialist policies» in the Balkans, criticism that was echoed by Synaspismos Left Coalition – which blamed both ND and PASOK for the current situation.