Greece’s Foreign Minister, Dimitris Avramapoulos, addressing the United Nations General Assembly today, said that his country will become the “staunchest ally and friend” of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia once the ‘name’ issue between them is finally resolved.
“The issue of the name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is, beyond its semantic dimension, an important piece in the puzzle of putting to rest irredentist notions and attempts to rewrite history in our region,” the Foreign Minister told the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, at UN Headquarters in New York.
“Greece believes that the solution lies in a fair settlement: a name with a geographical qualifier, since Macedonia is a geographical region that overlaps the territories of three countries, the largest part in Greece and then Bulgaria and (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia),” he added. “And of course this name must be used in relation to everyone.”
A UN-brokered Interim Accord was signed by the two countries in 1995, providing for the establishment of diplomatic relations between them and addressing other related issues. Under the Accord, the parties agreed to continue negotiations under the auspices of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with a view to reaching agreement on their difference over the ‘name.’
“When we resolve this issue, we will be able to realize the vast potential in our relations, to our mutual benefit, and Greece will be the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s staunchest ally and friend in its efforts to realize its Euroatlantic aspirations,” Mr. Avramapoulos stated, adding that Greece is the most important economic partner for its northern neighbour.
In his speech, he also said that Greece supported the efforts of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus to pursue negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot community under UN auspices aimed at reuniting the Mediterranean island, which has been divided since inter-communal violence erupted in 1964.
“However, after 38 years, the division of the island continues and the results of the talks have been disappointing, due to Turkish-Cypriot intransigence to engage in constructive talks,” he noted. “We applaud Cyprus’ decision to act on its sovereign right to exploit the natural gas deposits in its exclusive economic zone.”
The UN-sponsored talks seek to set up a bicommunal, bizonal federation with a single sovereignty, single citizenship and single international personality, with political equality.
Other topics mentioned in Mr. Avramapoulos’ statement include the crisis in Syria, freedom of expression, human rights and Greece’s economic crisis.
Greece’s Foreign Minister is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.