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‘Skopje has the most to gain by resolving the FYROM name issue and has to meet us halfway’

Over the next two months, developments are expected in the dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Does Skopje realize that Greece takes it for granted that the name issue has to be resolved before FYROM can join NATO? When FYROM’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski visited NATO in Brussels a few days ago, he was given a clear message: Along with Skopje’s internal reforms, which should continue, the name issue also has to be resolved if Greece is to consent to FYROM being invited to join NATO. However, I do not believe there is any more doubt in Skopje that this is our position. I would like to emphasize again that it is Skopje that has the most to gain by resolving the name issue. Greece has gone a long way. Skopje has to meet us halfway. Is there a link between the Skopje dispute and Kosovo, which is currently at a critical phase? Since there does not seem to be a unified stance in Europe regarding independence for Kosovo, what stance will Greece take? Negotiations over the name is an autonomous process with a specific objective. Kosovo is a very difficult question. Whatever solution is found, there will be some kind of side effect. There is no easy or good solution. The goal of Greek foreign policy is for a joint decision by the European Union regarding policies on Kosovo. Any unilateral recognition of course is up to each member state individually. What do you expect from your talks in Washington with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice? What I want to do in Washington is clarify our country’s views on events in our region. I believe that the US recognition of FYROM as «Macedonia» was a mistake. Among other things, it has created the impression in certain circles in Skopje that the issue has closed and that the process of UN-mediated talks can be abandoned. However, Greece will not accept that. Do you think it is time for a Greek foreign minister or prime minister to reach an agreement on the Aegean or on the Skopje issue? In negotiations, no one ever gets everything they ask for. It depends on how one sees one’s role in politics. Let me explain. Everyone has their own answer to the question of why they entered politics. My reply is that the goal of a politician is to move forward, to provide solutions to ongoing problems and if necessary to make courageous decisions; in the final analysis, to make one’s mark.