FYROM veto seems likely

Athens yesterday dug its heels in further on the Macedonia name dispute, saying it would veto Skopje’s bid to join NATO at an alliance summit this week unless a compromise is reached on the Balkan country’s name. «We have stated our position repeatedly – I will say it again: No solution means no invitation,» Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said yesterday in the face of growing pressure from Washington for a last-ditch settlement. In a commentary published in today’s International Herald Tribune, Bakoyannis says: «Greece has gone more than halfway on the issue, closer to two-thirds of the way… We cannot go any further.» According to sources, Greek diplomats told Washington that the NATO accession of candidates Croatia and Albania should be approved at the summit but that the bid of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) should be shelved until the name issue is satisfactorily resolved. Washington reportedly rejected this scenario and made a counterproposal: that FYROM enter NATO under the «temporary» name accorded to it 17 years ago, which Athens finds totally unacceptable. Meanwhile US President George W. Bush reiterated his support for FYROM’s NATO bid, telling Germany’s Die Welt that the name dispute «is an issue that can be resolved and definitely will be resolved.» Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who will attend tomorrow’s summit, is due to have talks with PASOK leader George Papandreou for a briefing on the main opposition party’s stance. Earlier yesterday, Papandreou phoned US Ambassador Daniel Speckhardt to complain about the US position which «ignores Greece’s stance and does not boost regional stability.» Meanwhile in Skopje, parliament canceled a debate on the latest proposal by United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz, who had been entrusted with resolving the dispute but has taken a back seat over the past few days.

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