OPINION

After Bucharest

On April 2, Greece kept its rendezvous. It followed through on its publicly declared stance on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia name issue. This can be summarized as follows: – The problem is a serious political issue. As long as it remains unresolved, it hampers neighborly relations and cooperation in the fragile Western Balkans. – Greece accepts an erga omnes compound name – containing the geographical term «Macedonia» and a clear geographical qualifier – as a basis for negotiations. – We sincerely desire and are pursuing a mutually acceptable solution that will benefit bilateral relations, regional stability and our neighbor’s European perspective; a definitive and clear solution that will leave no room for misinterpretation or irredentism. – In the absence of such a solution – that is, as long as serious outstanding issues remain unresolved – we cannot build allied and partner relations. We went to Bucharest with fully elaborated and moderate positions, which were understood. Greece left no room for misinterpretations or surprises. If there were any, it was no fault of ours. The next day is a day for taking stock. We have to bear three things in mind: 1. Greece was not alone. Our arguments were understood because we prepared them well. 2. Greece’s positions became those of the alliance. This was neither an inevitable outcome nor a natural process. In between the Greek stance and the adoption of Greece’s positions by the alliance, there were constant meetings and intensive negotiations. 3. The credibility of our foreign policy was confirmed. It is important that our positions will be seen through this prism in the coming stages of the negotiation process as well. Confirmed credibility is a strategic advantage for our foreign policy – not just in the context of this issue, but also in our dealings on other fronts. The next day is also a day of planning. The issue has not been resolved. We still have a lot of hard work and tough negotiations ahead of us. We will continue to follow a clear policy, safeguarding the consensus that has been achieved. This policy will be implemented through: 1. A systematic information campaign. Our goal is to ensure that the support we have from friends and allies grows stronger. This will further enhance our negotiating position. 2. Our readiness to immediately resume negotiations. The UN process is a given. It has been mandated by Security Council resolutions. It is this process that will lead to a solution. All that is needed is for the other side to come to the table in good faith and with a willingness to compromise. Any well-intentioned assistance in this direction is welcome. 3. A sincere message to the other side. Greece is sending a consistent and clear message to Skopje: It is our firm desire to find a mutually acceptable solution. No double-talk or hidden agendas. Our strategic objective is to build good-neighborly relations and strong cooperation to our mutual benefit. We are calling Skopje to sincere negotiations, so that once and for all we can leave this problem behind us in the dark Balkan past where it belongs; so that we can build a bright European future together. As it has done all these years, Greece will continue to back the stability, security and development of FYROM until the name issue is resolved and our neighbor receives its NATO invitation. George Koumoutsakos is Greece’s Foreign Ministry spokesman.