‘Our goal is to boost security and stability in the Balkans’

At the summit in Bucharest, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis kept to the red line you had drawn concerning the name for FYROM in statements preceding the summit. Do you think the outcome of the summit was positive for Greece? Given the way things have gone in recent years, the veto in Bucharest was necessary. We defended ourselves and averted a negative outcome for Greek national interests. But we have yet to achieve our goal, which is to find a solution to the issue of the name and to boost security and stability in the Balkans. The diplomatic battle has yet to be won. We’ll have won it when we achieve a mutually acceptable name for use in all circumstances. I hope the government will keep to that red line we clearly drew. We must insist to the end and not resort to solutions that in practice mean a dual name. Your visit to the premier last Tuesday did present an image of strong national unity. Will we see you adopt a new approach to relations with the government on major issues? I have always done so. Since 2004, I have consistently proposed specific strategies, ranging from Greek-Turkish relations to Balkan policy. We have done the same with issues of corruption, the electoral system, administrative reform and meritocracy in the public service. But the government’s decisions and policies make it hard if not impossible to reach an understanding. This time, however, national unity was possible. It also helped that the government accepted our «red line.» We have every reason to contribute actively to the handling of national issues. We take our role in opposition responsibly. For us, Greece comes first, and I have shown that throughout my political life. The day before the summit, you offered to go to Skopje for negotiations. Given FYROM’s inflexibility, what good could your visit have done? Many saw it as public relations ploy. My proposal to visit Skopje before the summit in Bucharest was for a very specific purpose. It was to make the Greek voice heard by all, to make a constructive contribution at that critical moment in the negotiations, and to ward off tension and polarization. It must be made clear to the leaders and people of our neighboring country that we want both sides to come out of this with their heads held high, without any losers. I shall insist. My offer is there and is even more timely now, after the veto. What needs to be determined is the right time. What is next for Greece after the veto? Do you expect pressure and trade-offs on issues such as Kosovo and the Greek presence in Afghanistan? I have experienced such pressure. But it is not in our interest to bargain outside the framework of international law. Greece used the veto it is entitled to by the NATO constitution and it must not link it to any trade-off. Greece must abide by its principles and international law. That should be our stance on Kosovo. The unilateral recognition of Kosovo as a state is a violation of international law and Greece cannot accept it. Our insistence on international law is profoundly patriotic. It is an effective weapon in foreign policy and the defense of our national interests. When the European Union abandons UN rules, as in the case of Kosovo, Greece must resist. Unfortunately, the government did not. I warned the government once again: Don’t recognize Kosovo. It would be a fatal mistake and would create problems in the future.