Skopje given ultimatum

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday hardened his stance against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), warning that Greece would block a scheduled investment of 50 million euros toward infrastructure in the neighboring country unless Skopje stops its provocative behavior. «Let us be entirely clear: As long as a climate of provocation, nationalism and bigotry is cultivated, not one euro will be disbursed,» Karamanlis told Parliament in reference to the 50 million euros Greece has pledged toward the construction of FYROM’s section of the pan-European Corridor 10, connecting Serbia in the north to Greece in the south. «The decisions by Skopje, apart from anything else, are jeopardizing the funding, and swift progress, of pan-European Corridor 10,» the premier added. Karamanlis was reacting to the news that FYROM’s prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, has decided to name this highway Alexander the Macedon, after the ancient Greek warrior Alexander the Great. The move was criticized by European Union officials earlier this week. Karamanlis said the decision by officials in Skopje displayed a lack of respect for Greece and its historic heritage and would not win them any friends in the international community. «All they are doing is confirming, in everyone’s eyes, their obstinacy and fixation on a murky past of fanaticism and nationalism,» Greece’s premier said. Karamanlis added that the development would do little good for Skopje’s European Union and NATO bids. «FYROM cannot be accepted if they continue to ignore the basic principles of good-neighborly relations and both alliances have made this very clear,» he said. The Greek premier also slammed FYROM officials for obstructing progress in United Nations-mediated negotiations aimed at solving the Macedonia name dispute. «They have attempted to derail the talks from their focus and to throw up barriers to procedures,» he said. Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, speaking from Vienna yesterday, said solving the name spat was crucial and criticized Gruevski for his «excessive provocation of the Greek people.»

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