Greece on Monday announced that the country’s foreign minister again emphasised to her counterpart in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) that Athens considers the “name issue” as the paramount problem standing in the way of fully normalised bilateral relations.
In her reply, dated March 24, Greek Foreign Dora Bakoyannis reminded that Athens has demonstrated a sincere volition over recent years to develop normal and productive bilateral relations.
“Let me remind you in this respect that Greece has demonstrated, in practice, her willingness and preparedness to settle the issues that divide our two countries, as well as to build good neighbourly relations and to establish close cooperation in all fields with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” Bakoyannis states.
Moreover, in broaching the eyebrow-raising proposal by fYRoM FM Antonio Milososki earlier this month for the establishment of a bilateral committee to “examine” historical issues, Bakoyannis was crystal clear:
“… I would like to emphasize that history is a science that establishes historical truth through scientific methods. It cannot and should not be subject to political expediency or any other political considerations. In this sense, history is not negotiable. The history of the ancient world has already been written and documented, over the centuries, through laborious scientific research by acclaimed international historians and archaeologists. It cannot be rewritten by a bilateral committee.”
In concluding her letter, Bakoyannis focuses directly on the resolution of the 19-year-old “name issue”, noting that “…the catalyst for the improvement of the relations between our two countries is the long overdue definitive settlement of the ‘name issue’, in all its aspects. This would pave the way for the fulfilment of the European and the Euro-Atlantic perspective of your country, in accordance with the collective and unanimous decisions taken by the member-states of NATO and the EU,” she said, citing the 2008 Bucharest summit joint communiqué and a European Council decision in June 2008.
Additionally, she said improvement of bilateral relations and increasing bilateral cooperation between the two neighbouring states necessitates “…respect of the fundamental principles on which good neighbourliness is based, as provided by the Interim Agreement.”
Moreover, Bakoyannis pointed to the significant level of Greek private sector investments and business activity in the landlocked one-time Yugoslav republic while at the same time decrying what she called “numerous difficulties and obstacles (faced by Greek businesses and entrepreneurs there), including discriminatory and ‘red tape’ practices, acts of harassment and intimidation, even a boycott against their products…”
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