How far can we go with FYROM?

by Serafim Kotrotsos

(“Makedonia”, March 11, 2001)

As fears of an escalation of the destabilising movements observed recently on the borders of FYROM, Kosovo and Albania increase day by day, the predictions placing Greece squarely in front of a serious dilemma take on more and more substance. Will Greece take diplomatic initiatives (and possibly, if circumstances so require, other steps as well) to preserve the territorial integrity of its small neighbour, possibly leading it into conflict with other international or Balkan interests, or will it simply stand on the sidelines as an observer of developments, “respecting” the structures set in place by NATO and the European Union. Even the long-sighted Konstantinos Mitsotakis, who several years ago stated that “in ten years time the name of FYROM will no longer be an issue”, could not have foreseen that the survival of this neighbouring state would become a matter of such vital importance to Greece’s interests in the region that we would, as a country, be faced with the possibility of having to support it, both politically and militarily, against other, older, allies. Life (and diplomacy) is full of surprises. Which it springs on us to make us realise how dangerous rigid positions and national stereotypes can be. FYROM, for those who may not know, has a unique problem, in that it has a powerful Albanian minority that has never become integrated into the Slav population, as other communities/minorities have elsewhere […].

Today, the tense situation […] is rapidly moving out of control, and is much more likely soon to engulf the people of Kosovo, Albania, FYROM and Serbia in a new armed conflict. It is certain that in such a case NATO would intervene, as usual, to put out the fire, and it is highly probable that the result would not be in Greece’s best interests. And what would be the best outcome for Greece? The unconditional and integral survival of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as a political entity […].

Greece must exert all its influence, even if this means jeopardising European and North Atlantic equilibriums. It must in no case permit FYROM to be broken up, because this would send Albanian nationalism sky-rocketing, which in turn would revive old passions in Serbia and Bulgaria. The absence or shrinking of the buffer state represented by FYROM (particularly now that this northern neighbour is developing into a solid diplomatic and economic ally) would lead to a series of exceptionally serious dangers for our country and for the entire region. This is why we must be ready to decide: how far can we—and are we willing—to go if FYROM should be in danger? […]

 

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