Gov’t united on FYROM

The government yesterday presented a united front on the Macedonia name dispute after Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis briefed the Inner Cabinet on the five composite names proposed by a UN mediator in a bid to break the deadlock. Virtually all ministers responded positively to the latest drive for a settlement by UN envoy Matthew Nimetz and praised Bakoyannis’s stance. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who met with Nimetz prior to the Cabinet briefing, did not comment. The five composite names being proposed by Nimetz to replace the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are: Democratic Republic of Macedonia, Constitutional Republic of Macedonia, Independent Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Upper Macedonia and New Republic of Macedonia. Nimetz also reportedly proposed a ban on the commercial use of the name Macedonia by either Greece or FYROM. Neither Bakoyannis nor any other government official indicated a preference for any of the names proposed by Nimetz yesterday. Government sources told Kathimerini that it would be «extremely difficult» to reach a settlement and that the eventuality of Athens using its veto to obstruct FYROM’s bid to join NATO had not been ruled out. Although the government had hoped for opposition backing on the Macedonia name issue, party leaders all voiced criticism yesterday. The main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said he could not accept a «dual solution» – where FYROM uses its constitutional name in domestic and bilateral relations and a composite name in international organizations. The dual option has not been ruled out by Athens. The new leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras, spoke of «15 years of erroneous tactics in Greek foreign policy.» According to the leader of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Aleka Papariga, any composite name chosen must define FYROM geographically, otherwise «there may be an issue of border changes.» Meanwhile in Skopje, FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski called for a referendum for his people to decide whether they want a new name.