Greece and US to cooperate for freedom, peace

Greece is hoping to use its partnership with the United States to bring peace to the Balkans, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said yesterday, less than 48 hours after holding talks with US President George W. Bush at the White House. «My government intends to use… our unique position in Southeastern Europe – [as] members of NATO and the European Union – to help turn the whole region into an area of stability, cooperation, prosperity and peace,» Karamanlis said yesterday while addressing graduates from Tufts University in Boston, where he studied diplomatic history. «To accomplish that task we will need the strong support of both the European Union and the United States. We look forward to working closely with both to help bring a lasting peace to an area long known as history’s cauldron,» he added. Karamanlis’s comments followed his talks with Bush in Washington, when both leaders agreed that the two countries had formed a «strategic partnership» and enjoyed «excellent bilateral relations.» «It is important we work together to spread freedom and peace,» said the US president before the 45-minute meeting in the Oval Office, with particular reference to the Balkans and the Middle East. A senior Washington official told Sunday’s Kathimerini that the US viewed Greece as a «key NATO ally.» In a press conference after the talks, Karamanlis said that the US could have «a constructive role» in helping resolve Greece’s dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over its name. Athens accepted a proposal last month by UN mediator Matthew Nimitz for its Balkan neighbor to carry the name «Republika Makedonija-Skopje» but this was rejected by the FYROM government. «I regret to say that the other side has not responded positively,» Karamanlis said. Washington has recognised the country as plain Macedonia. The Greek premier said that the two leaders also discussed the Middle East, but when asked if Athens would be allowing US forces air and sea corridors for operations in Iraq, Karamanlis said that there was «nothing new» on this subject. On Cyprus, Karamanlis reiterated his commitment to a «just and sustainable» solution to the island’s division and called for «steady and cautious steps» to be taken. Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, who last week sent an aide to the UN for talks on the subject, said that he did not expect the meeting between Bush and Karamanlis to suddenly improve prospects for reunification talks.