Gruevski note to EC irks Athens

The government yesterday avoided issuing an official response to news that the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Gruevski, has sent a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso complaining about the treatment of a supposed «Macedonian minority» in Greece. According to reports, Gruevski reiterates in his letter to Barroso the same demands he had outlined in a recent letter to Greek Premier Costas Karamanlis: the recognition of a supposed «Macedonian minority» in Greece and the granting of rights and compensation to FYROM citizens who left Greece during the 1946-49 civil war. EC officials yesterday told a reporter for Skai Television and Radio in Brussels that EC officials were «studying» Gruevski’s letter to Barroso and that a response was due by this afternoon. Meanwhile, diplomats in Athens said they would be surprised if Barroso honored the letter with a response as the supposed existence of a «Macedonian minority» – in Greece or anywhere else – has never been debated in Brussels. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos refused to comment on Gruevski’s letter to Barroso, referring instead to Karamanlis’s written response to the FYROM premier’s earlier letter. «The prime minister has given a clear, uncompromising response,» Roussopoulos said. But main opposition PASOK criticized the government’s strategy, saying that it had been wrong to honor Gruevski with a response in the first place. «The government has managed to open a dialogue on a non-existent issue,» said PASOK’s shadow minister for foreign affairs, Andreas Loverdos. Other opposition parties also expressed their disapproval. The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) said in a statement that Gruevski’s latest move «reveals Skopje’s true intentions… the organized pillaging of Greek history.»