NEWS

PM gets EU nod on name row

A European Council summit in Brussels this week was a prime opportunity for the discussion of crucial issues for Greece, including illegal immigration and rising prices, and also issued a positive message regarding the Macedonia name dispute, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said yesterday. «The conclusions adopted by the summit for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) make it clear that good-neighborly relations are necessary for it to advance its (EU) accession prospects,» Karamanlis told a press conference after the summit. It was the first time the European Council referred to the name within the context of FYROM’s obligations to qualify as a candidate member state, the PM told reporters. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was also in Brussels, reiterated his support for Greece in the name dispute. The summit also gave Karamanlis the chance to air his grievances regarding Greece’s problem with illegal immigration which, he has often charged, is a European problem. «Because of its geographical position, Greece shoulders a huge part of the burden of illegal immigration,» Karamanlis said, adding that «a joint EU effort and policy is necessary if we are to tackle this successfully.» The premier proposed the implementation of measures to discourage illegal immigration, such as punishing employers who hire illegal migrants and workers and introducing a common charter for working migrants’ rights. He also reiterated Greek calls for a common European coast guard to police the bloc’s external borders more efficiently. Karamanlis also touched on the chief focuses of the summit – the impact of Ireland’s decision to reject the Lisbon Treaty and rising inflation, spurred by the fuel crisis. EU leaders agreed that efforts should be made to persuade those European states which have not ratified the treaty to do so «in order to give fresh impetus to the Union,» he said.