Athens, August 25, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias is visiting Skopje at the invitation of Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister of the Skopje government, Nikola Poposki.
Beyond the formal meetings with the President of FYROM Gjorge Ivanov and Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev, Nikos Kotzias will speak at the annual conference of the FYROM diplomats, at the invitation of his counterpart. In his speech, he is expected to develop the Greek positions to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between Greece – FYROM, but also the European future of the Balkans in a European Union that is called to redesign its future.
Then the Greek Foreign Minister will have individual talks with his counterpart Nikola Poposki, followed by official talks between the two delegations.
As Nikola Poposki stated yesterday in a television appearance, the name issue will not be in the agenda of the bilateral contacts with his Greek counterpart, which seems strange, since the issue of the international name of FYROM is the point of friction between the two countries, but also a deterrent to the course of Skopje, both for their integration into the EU and NATO.
Irredentism and usurpation of history can not be accepted
As repeatedly has stressed the Greek Foreign Minister, Greece seeks with sincerity, political will and readiness the final resolution of the name issue as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the leadership of FYROM has an obsession with rhetoric of the past that does not contribute to a solution. The fact that Skopje have avoided to submit credible proposals for an acceptable compromise on the name issue, combined with the fact that there has been no preparation for the need for the public to find a mutually acceptable solution, shows that the leadership of FYROM has no adequate willingness to work for a realistic solution to the name issue.
The framework of the negotiations in progress are clear: The United Nations, The mandate of the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary is reflected in the relevant decisions of the UN and the Interim Agreement: The negotiation concerns the name issue and until reaching a mutual compromise it should be done using the temporary name.
On the name issue, some EU Member States have clear responsibilities for the impasse, because with the policy they followed towards FYROM convinced the government in Skopje that it is easy for Greece to be pressured to change its policy and therefore the FYROM government does not need to follow the European negotiating culture and the spirit of compromise it dictates.
A solution cannot exist with FYROM’s constitutional name. The solution should not leave room for irredentist tendencies and usurpation of history and culture of neighboring countries, as this dynamites good neighborly relations, which is a prerequisite for stability, peace and prosperity in the region.
On the Greek part, it is clear that there are no irredentist claims. Greece asks respect to international law by all. It has made proposals, has made great strides, and hopes the neighboring country to respond with a more realistic and pragmatic approach.
Greece is the oldest European country in the Balkans and among the first memebrs of the European Union. Its strategic choice is the integration of the whole region of the Western Balkans into the EU. During its EU presidency in the 1990s, Greece paved the way for the Scandinavians and in 2003 opened the way for the integration of the Balkans into the European Union.
The stability and the FYROM security is important for the whole region. With its European experience, Greece wants to help and contribute to the progress of FYROM in the Euro-Atlantic institutions, provided of course that all relevant terms and conditions are met.
Indicative of the sincere attitude of Greece is its policy agaisnt any form of European sanctions (because of internal political stalemate and issues concerning the functioning of the rule of law). This position was recently expressed at the Luxembourg Foreign Affairs Council (06.20.2016) the Greek Foreign Minister, who strongly opposed the adoption of sanctions and stressed that any sanctions against FYROM would prove counterproductive and harmful.