Washington’s role

It is clear that Washington’s stance will be a major influence on the outcome of the negotiations. For the first time, the US is «encouraging» FYROM to seek a compromise with Greece. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried, who was in Skopje recently, told his interlocutors that it was in their interest to settle with Greece, noting that Athens had real concerns regarding the name issue. Fried is carrying through with Burns’s promise to Bakoyannis that the US would bring influence to bear on Skopje. Number three at the State Department, Fried is aware of the situation in Greece and is in a position to put a political interpretation on the significance of the threat by the moderate and «realist» Bakoyannis to block Skopje’s entry to NATO. In the diplomatic equation, there is a real risk of Washington focusing on «concessions» by Skopje involving respect for cultural symbols (such as renaming Skopje airport, revising books, removing statues), and asking Greece to accept a name that is not much or not at all different from «Republic of Macedonia.» This calls for vigilance on the part of Greece’s diplomats.