Nikos Kotzias in Skopje as a guest of Nikola Poposki

Nikos Kotzias in Skopje as a guest of Nikola Poposki

Athens, August 24, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

To the relations between Greece and FYROM’s European perspective, the future of Europe and its position in the Balkans in it, but also on bilateral issues, on the name issue and cooperation, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias is expected to make a reference in his speech tomorrow at noon at the annual meeting of diplomats in Skopje, at the invitation of Vive-Premier and Foreign Minister of FYROM Nikola Poposki. It is the first time that a Greek Foreign Minister will speak to diplomats accredited in Skopje and this fact has its own special significance for the complex relations between Athens and Skopje.

Mr Kotzias is expected to make clear that there is an urgent need for a discussion on the future of Europe in light of new facts and developments after the financial crisis and the refugee-immigrant crisis.

Within this context, the constant aim of Greece is the stabilization of its wider neighborhood, and as such it supports the European perspective of the Western Balkans.

In parallel, it promotes new institutions of cooperation in the Balkans, as exemplified by meeting of Foreign and Interior Ministers of Greece, FYROM, Bulgaria and Albania, which took place in the spring in Thessaloniki and has now achieved permanent status.

With regard to Greek-FYROM relations, the Greek FM is expected to place importance to the development of cooperation at the political, economic and academic, following the adoption and implementation of confidence-building measures, which was the result of the initiative adopted by Mr Kotzias immediately after taking office, in order to overcome the deadlock and mutual suspicion between the two sides.

The Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) that were agreed have become useful tools of bilateral cooperation and refer to related fields of policy and European affairs, European programs, trade, education and culture, public administration, border cooperation, civil protection, connectivity, energy, home affairs and justice, and health. Common goal of the two sides is the continuation of cooperation in the fight against trafficking and counterfeiting of forged public documents (passports, identity cards, etc.), the promotion of cooperation in the energy sector and in higher education.

For the Greek side, the CBM are not just an opportunity for the two sides to return to the negotiation table. Besides attempting to create a climate of trust between the two countries at political and technical level, necessary for any level of cooperation, they have tangible benefits for the two peoples through the development and intensification of cross-border contacts and the resolution of issues concerning the daily life of the two countries’ citizens.

However, the Greek initiative for the CBM does not replace the process under the Personal Envoy of the United Nations, but is intended inter alia to creating a better climate and appropriate conditions that will enable the achievement of a mutual compromise in the name issue and the full restoration of bilateral relations.

On the issue of FYROM’s name, Greece seeks with sincerity, political will and readiness the final resolution of the name issue as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the leadership of RYROM retains an obsession with the rhetoric of the past that does not contribute to a solution. The fact that Skopje have avoided submiting credible proposals for an acceptable compromise on the name issue, combined with the fact that there has been no preparation of the public for the need to find a mutually acceptable solution, comes to show that the leadership of FYROM does not posses sufficient will to work towards finding a realistic solution to the name issue.