Pressure over FYROM

US Undersecretary for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns came out in favor of the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in NATO and the European Union and said Greece should not oppose its entry in either of the two organizations. In an interview published yesterday in the FYROM newspaper Utrinski Vesnik, Burns, who served as US ambassador to Greece from 1997 to 2001, was quoted as saying that «it would be a shame for Greece to oppose a veto» in FYROM’s effort to join the EU and NATO. «Something like that would not be right. Macedonia has the right and an interest to become a NATO and EU member and it would be a shame to create problems in this direction,» Burns was quoted as saying, referring to FYROM with its constitutional name, to which Greece objects. Greece believes that the name «Macedonia» conceals designs on the Greek province of Macedonia and objects to FYROM being recognized under that name in international organizations. The name FYROM itself is a temporary compromise reached by the two states in 1995. However, more than 100 states have recognized FYROM as «Macedonia» in their bilateral relations and, practically, the appellation is widely used everywhere, except in Greece. Opposition Socialist politicians immediately jumped in to denounce, not the US, but the Greek government for its «weak» foreign policy and mock it for its assertion that relations with the US have tightened to the point where Greece is considered a «strategic partner.» «Mr Burns’s remarks – I remind you he is a ‘strategic partner’ of the New Democracy government – reveal the weakness of (Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis’s foreign policy strategy,» said Christos Papoutsis, the Socialist party’s spokesman on foreign affairs, security and defense. The Greek government did not react directly, but foreign minister sources said Greece reserves the right to block FYROM’s EU and NATO entry, unless it uses a name acceptable to Greece. Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis, at a meeting of Balkan states in Rhodes, said «all the countries of the region should join the EU, without exception.»