Athens stands firm

Athens is determined to draw all its diplomatic weapons over a name dispute with Skopje as the government yesterday ruled out any compromise on the issue while the United States reiterated its support of an upgraded international role for the small Balkan country. Minister of Macedonia and Thrace Nikos Tsiartsonis said that Greece will dig in its heels on the name issue that has separated the two countries for years. «The management of the political problem is going through a tough time but Greece… will not accept any compromise on its history and the name of Macedonia,» he said yesterday after a service to mark the Macedonian Struggle during which Greek and Bulgarian guerillas fought for control of the region about a hundred years ago. Greece believes that the name «Macedonia,» which the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) uses, conceals designs on the Greek province of Macedonia and objects to its neighbor being recognized under that name in international organizations. Talks over the dispute increased and intensified recently after renewed efforts by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz to help the two countries find common ground. But US Undersecretary for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns said in remarks published Friday that it would be a shame for Greece to use its veto in FYROM’s efforts to join the EU and NATO; Burns’s comments were not well received in Athens. When asked for a clarification later in the day, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli confirmed that Washington fully supports Burns’s views, but did not comment further.