FYROM move sought

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis yesterday briefed the Cabinet on developments regarding Greece’s dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s name and called on the United Nations envoy charged with resolving the disagreement to propose a solution. «Greek diplomacy is awaiting initiatives and a new proposal by Mr Nimetz,» Bakoyannis said after the meeting. UN envoy Matthew Nimetz has not made a proposal since April 2005 when he suggested the composite name Republika Makedonja-Skopje, which was accepted by Athens but rejected by Skopje. Cabinet ministers yesterday discussed various scenarios, and Athens’s likely response to each of them, sources said. But Bakoyannis also called for the issue to be debated during a meeting of the national foreign affairs council, comprising representatives of all political parties in Parliament, once the main opposition PASOK has resolved its leadership issues. Greece’s FM reiterated the government’s support for a «composite and distinct» name for FYROM. In an interview with Kathimerini published over the weekend, Bakoyannis called for a «mutually acceptable solution… that will distinguish that country from the Greek region of Macedonia as a geographical entity.» She said the government was determined to break a 15-year-old deadlock and solve the problem. «Burying one’s head in the sand has no place in foreign policy – we have to break this vicious cycle,» she told Kathimerini. However, Bakoyannis stressed yesterday that Athens would have to consider exercising its veto as a member state of NATO, which FYROM is hoping to join, if the neighboring country retains an intransigent stance on the name issue. During yesterday’s talks, sources said, ministers agreed to work toward «creating a positive climate in Brussels» ahead of the assumption of the European Union’s rotating presidency in January by Slovenia, believed to be a staunch supporter of FYROM. The leader of the far-right Orthodox Popular Rally (LAOS) party, Giorgos Karatzaferis, yesterday took the opportunity to breach the subject during a meeting with Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis. «It is time for a final, national stance (on the name issue) and for an end to sensationalist assertions which harm us and serve the arguments of Skopje,» he said.