Skopje urged to decide

Greece has warned the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that «the time for decisions has come» as the two countries are set to embark on a new round of talks on the name issue at the United Nations today. Writing in today’s Kathimerini, Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos suggests that Skopje faces a crucial decision about its future. «It now falls to the leadership in Skopje to choose between a Euro-Atlantic future of cooperation and good neighborly relations, or an arrogant, intransigent stance that will inevitably lead out of the European and Euro-Atlantic framework,» he writes. Greece has indicated it will block FYROM’s bid to join NATO and the European Union unless the two sides can find a mutually acceptable solution to the use of the name «Macedonia.» «The name issue… will define the future of the region and the relations of our countries,» according to Koumoutsakos. «And these relations must not be poisoned by irredentist propaganda and provocative actions.» Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis also suggested yesterday that Skopje should come to the negotiating table with a «constructive attitude and clear positions for a better future.» Bakoyannis is due to fly to London on Monday to hold talks with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. The FYROM issue is likely to be raised during the meeting. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopolos said yesterday that the round of talks set to start today would perhaps be the «most crucial» since the «Macedonia» dispute arose between the two countries 16 years ago. Roussopoulos also criticized the stance of Giorgos Karadzaferis, the leader of the nationalist right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), who the government believes is trying to divide conservative MPs on the issue. Karadzaferis suggested that no New Democracy MP would approve the government’s plan to accept a composite name for Greece’s northern neighbor. Roussopoulos accused the LAOS leader of displaying «unbounded arrogance» in his comments.