PM rebuffs Gruevski claims

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday accused his Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) counterpart, Nikolas Gruevski, of trying to intervene in Greece’s domestic affairs and undermining negotiations to settle the name dispute between the two countries. Karamanlis wrote to Gruevski in response to a letter sent this week by the FYROM premier, in which he called for the recognition of a supposed «Macedonian minority» in Greece and the granting of rights and compensation to FYROM citizens who left Greece during the civil war. According to leaked extracts of the letter, Karamanlis replied: «There is no Macedonian minority in Greece. There never has been.» He went on to suggest that any assertion to the contrary displayed ignorance of history and that the claim was politically motivated. «As far as property issues are concerned, whoever so wishes can appeal to the courts, including the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg,» said Karamanlis in his letter. The Greek prime minister reminded his counterpart that the United Nations, the European Union and NATO recognize the name dispute as the only issue that the two countries have to settle. «There is no room for doubt,» on the issue, Karamanlis said. He also expressed regret that Gruevski chose this particular point in time to raise these issues. The FYROM premier’s letter arrived on Karamanlis’s desk as UN mediator Matthew Nimetz was involved in a new round of negotiations with representatives of the two countries. Greece wants good relations with FYROM and the creation of conditions that will lead to the state joining NATO and the EU but it is coming up against «nationalistic thinking from an age that has long passed and should stay in the past.» «History judges leaders based on how they stand up to challenges and assume their responsibilities. Much will depend on your positive stance and constructive spirit,» Karamanlis warned Gruevski.