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Alternate FM Xenogiannakopoulou’s reply to a Current Question from LAOS MP Velopoulos regarding FYROM

Friday, 19 November 2010

Ms. Xenogiannakopoulou’s initial response:

My dear colleague, as we are discussing a very serious issue, I think that our country has a very clear, crystal clear position. There is nothing going on in the wings, nor are there proposals being passed under the table.

Our position is strong, credible and effective with regard to the promotion of our interests, because our voice is clear and unified. We say the same thing everywhere. This is what we say in the Hellenic Parliament, what we say here in Greece, what we say to our partners and to the international community. So we have a single unified and credible message. We have drawn a clear red line that, as you know, enjoys the support of the vast majority of the political forces in this Parliament and in our country.

So our position is clear. A name with a geographical qualifier, for use in relation to everyone (erga omnes). And I don’t think it would help our country’s position or negotiating power if we were to go into such a discussion of various scenarios right now. I assume that you are saying what you are saying mockingly. I naturally don’t think you are being serious. I also don’t think we should talk about such matters in that way. I think – because I am aware of your sensitivities – that we need to maintain a serious tone when we discuss these matters.

So, a name with a geographical qualifier, for use in relation to everyone (erga omnes). A crystal clear position. And for that reason, precisely because we have a single voice and have made clear our boundary lines, you see that there has been a clear change in the climate. I remind you of where we stood a year ago, when this government was elected. You are well aware that at that time the European Commission report came out proposing the opening of accession negotiations with FYROM. And, with the clarity of our position, and with our positive diplomatic initiative – through the Prime Minister’s initiatives, the meetings he had with his FYROM counterpart, as well – with a clear stance taken before all our partners in the EU, NATO and the UN, we were able to change this climate, my dear colleague.
You can see that a year later the pressure and eyes are not on us – they are on FYROM. That is where the demand is being made for the next step. And not just nice words, but words and good will and reflected in deeds. But, unfortunately, we know very well that FYROM’s stance remains intransigent, as it has been for the past seventeen years. And for that reason, I will assure you once again from this floor – and I think we speak for the whole Hellenic Parliament when we say this: our position is clear.

We are sincere when we say that we want there to be a solution. We have shown our good will. We have set out a framework and red lines. Beyond that, of course, we are unswerving on this red line. Because we want, first of all, to guarantee our national interests and at the same time make it clear that Greece is a factor for peace, stability, security and development in our region.

Thank you very much.

Ms. Xenogiannakopoulou’s rejoinder:

My dear colleague, when I spoke about seriousness – so that we understand each other – I was not questioning your personal seriousness. I acknowledge your sensitivities, even if there is a distance between our political views. I was talking about the examples you raised. I think that when we are discussing such issues, it is good to talk about them with some seriousness. Let’s make that clear. Beyond that, our position is crystal clear. It is a position that has the support of the vast majority of the political forces in this Parliament, and, correspondingly, of the Greek people, who are represented by these forces.

It is a position that has at this time made clear the position of our country. It has strengthened our negotiating stance, because we are not backed into a corner. We have shown the sincerity of our intentions. We have stated precisely what our national red line is, and we are unswerving on that.

That is why we are saying that over this past year the pressure has shifted, and this is apparent. All sides have shifted the pressure. This is now clear. Let me remind you of the clear statements – for example – from the NATO Secretary General here in Athens, as we are having the Summit Meeting now. He said that there is no issue of FYROM’s joining NATO if there is not a mutually acceptable solution on the name issue. Let me remind you of the European Council’s position. This is also a clear position. Let me also note the report issued recently by the European Commission, which underscores once again the capital importance of the issue of good neighbourly relations and the resolution of the name issue.

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