NEWS

FM cagey on FYROM name talks

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis yesterday relayed in a speech before Parliament the optimism expressed by Matthew Nimetz, the United Nations mediator in Greece’s name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), but she refused to reveal any details about the «tweaked» proposal for a settlement presented to her by Nimetz, fueling opposition anger. «Our talks focused on finding a composite name with a geographical determinant that would be acceptable to both sides,» Bakoyannis said. Representatives of main opposition PASOK pressed the minister several times to reveal the changes to Nimetz’s proposal of last October, namely the Republic of Northern Macedonia. But Bakoyannis held her ground. «We cannot allow a domestic [political] game to develop while negotiations are under way,» she said. Sources have told Kathimerini that government officials in Skopje appear ready to accept a composite name solution and that it is only the scope of this name’s use that remains to be determined. Bakoyannis also briefed MPs yesterday on the government’s policy vis-a-vis Ankara in the wake of increased European Union pressure for a crackdown on illegal immigrants entering Greece. She stressed that Turkey’s future as an EU member state depended on it cooperating with other member states, including Greece, and showing good will in tackling common problems. «Turkey must help us to help itself and there are many levels on which cooperation can exist, such as illegal immigration,» Bakoyannis said. PASOK also criticized the government for its tactics as regards Turkey, accusing it of pursuing a «passive» foreign policy and failing to grab the bull by the horns early on. Bakoyannis countered that the government had first pushed for a crackdown on illegal immigration in the fall of 2007, when the influx of undocumented visitors peaked, but that the European Commission had been less forthcoming with aid and strategic support than it is now.