PM plays down result

As Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told Parliament yesterday that Greece still had a lot of work to do after the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, opposition parties said the conservatives merely did their job and accused the government of inconsistently implementing its foreign policy. «We are not bragging. We do not overestimate or underestimate the result. We still have a lot of work ahead of us in order to achieve the national goal,» remarked Karamanlis. Greece blocked the entry of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to NATO last week on the grounds the country’s name implies a territorial claim to the province of Macedonia in northern Greece. PASOK leader George Papandreou said there are large inconsistencies between Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on whether the proposed name should include a geographical reference to FYROM. Bakoyannis met in Athens yesterday with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza where energy issues topped the agenda. The USA has urged European countries to seek alternatives to Russian natural gas. During a February visit to Brussels, Bryza took a swipe at Russia’s state-owned Gazprom, saying energy monopolies threaten countries’ economic security. After the meeting with Bakoyannis, Bryza said, «We talked about how important it is to put in place diversification options before deepening dependence in one direction, on a single company that’s already such a major supplier, 80 percent, in fact, of the gas here to Greece.» Meanwhile, any further talks between Greece and FYROM may have to be put on hold as lawmakers in the neighboring country debated yesterday whether to dissolve parliament, in a move that would lead to early general elections. FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski is not required to go to the polls until 2010, but dissent within his coalition and a recent failure to secure NATO membership have added pressure on his governing conservatives. If a simple majority of 61 in the 120-member parliament vote in favor of the motion, an election must be held within two months.

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