FM appeals to difficult neighbors

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Saturday issued appeals to Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to display more cooperative stances if the outstanding disputes that Greece has with both neighbors are to be resolved. First addressing the problem with Turkey, in the wake of a recent spike in air-space violations in the Aegean, Bakoyannis acknowledged that Athens «finds itself faced with Turkish provocations in the Aegean.» But the minister, who was speaking during an official visit to Crete, stressed that Greece was «tackling the situation successfully with self-confidence and cool-headedness.» Her comments followed a flurry of diplomatic speculation after regular violations of Greek air space in the Aegean by Turkish jets over the past few weeks. Concerns in Athens were sharpened by Ankara’s decision to authorize its oil corporation to prospect for oil beyond Turkish territorial waters. Despite the spike in tensions, Bakoyannis said she still intended to visit Ankara in response to an official invitation from her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu. However, Bakoyannis said, a heavy workload would prevent her from going during the summer. The minister was also questioned about Greece’s ties with another problematic neighbor, FYROM, in view of press reports in Skopje stating that FYROM government officials will today submit an appeal against Greece with the International Court of Justice in The Hague. According to the reports, Skopje is expected to claim that Athens violated a bilateral interim accord signed in 1995 with its veto of FYROM’s bid to join NATO at the alliance’s summit in Bucharest in April last year. Bakoyannis noted that Greece has «very strong arguments» in its defense and called on Skopje to approach ongoing talks aimed at solving the name dispute with good faith so that a solution can be found.