US denies taking sides on FYROM

US Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns has told Kathimerini that recent reports in which he was quoted as saying it would be «shameful» for Greece to block the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) from joining NATO were inaccurate. «I never said that it would be shameful. I never said anything of the sort,» Burns, a former US ambassador to Greece, told Kathimerini. His comments two weeks ago were heavily criticized by the Greek media and opposition parties as a sign of the US interfering in negotiations between Athens and Skopje. It came just days after Greece rejected the latest proposal by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz for resolving the name dispute with FYROM. «I think we should be neutral. And I’m sorry that some of the Greek newspapers did not correct my words in the correct way,» Burns said. «We have told both the Macedonians and the Greeks that we think the problem should be worked out through the UN special negotiator ambassador Nimetz and we don’t have any influence over his proposals.» Although it was criticized at the time, the government did not comment on reports about what Burns had to say. «There’s been a very good personal relationship between the Greek leadership and the United States. We listen to the Greek government,» Burns said. The full version of this interview will appear in tomorrow’s Kathimerini English Edition.