Stance on FYROM sorted

Greece will make no specific proposal at this week’s negotiations in New York aimed at resolving a 15-year dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s name but will insist on a «composite» formula that distinguishes the neighboring country from the region of Macedonia in northern Greece, government sources said yesterday. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis yesterday briefed Adamantios Vassilakis, Greece’s ambassador to the United Nations, on what line to take with his FYROM counterpart in Thursday’s talks, stressing the need for a settlement by April when NATO is set to decide whether to open its doors to FYROM. «For Skopje’s leadership, there is a very obvious choice to be made,» Bakoyannis said. «On the one hand there are Euro-Atlantic prospects coupled with economic and regional stability, while on the other there is intransigence.» Diplomatic sources told Kathimerini that Athens is flexible as long as the name clearly distinguishes FYROM from Greece’s Macedonia region. «Of the many proposals for a composite name put forward over the years, Greece has said it would accept around 10 – let them choose one,» a source said. Vassilakis struck a positive note ahead of Thursday’s talks, saying, «You must have persistence and patience to succeed.» The government’s stance toward FYROM was condemned by the main opposition party PASOK. «Karamanlis’s government, which sat by for three-and-a-half years as an avalanche of states recognized Skopje by its ‘constitutional name’ is now struggling to put things right,» said PASOK spokesman Yiannis Ragousis. In an interview with Eleftheros Typos, FYROM’s Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki described Greece’s stance toward his country as «absurd.» «Our constitutional name is a reality that is globally recognized and we are waiting for Greece to respect this fact,» Milososki said. FYROM will consider appealing to the UN if Greece decides to use its veto – as a NATO member – against FYROM, Milososki said.