Let Us Not Miss This Historic Opportunity Too

(“Ependytis”, Holy Thursday 12, Easter Sunday 15 April, 2001)

History is said to be parsimonious and not a giver of many opportunities. Indeed, it may even prove miserly if those who write it are not particularly adept at managing their own interests. This danger looms for our country where its differences with FYROM are concerned, and in particular its difference over the country’s name.

Today we have a great opportunity before us. At the Balkan Summit Meeting, which is taking place in Skopje under the overall supervision of the American Secretary of State, Colin Powell and “Mr CFSP” Xavier Solana, the Greek Foreign Minister, Mr G. Papandreou could score a significant victory in the interests of this country.

Overcoming silly territorial inhibitions and setting aside cursory assessments of dual claims, he may, with diplomacy and decision, put forward the subject of the IMMEDIATE resolution of the Athens-Skopje differences.

It is an historic opportunity which may not arise again in the foreseeable future, especially as the interim agreement expires in less than 18 months.

Through its attitude and behaviour, Greece has shown that it not only intends solidarity towards its neighbouring country, but has proven so by putting it into action. Because of the armed conflict they have undergone (and it should be noted that the danger of it flaring up again has not passed), the people of FYROM should, for the most part, now be convinced that Greece is perhaps the only country in the region which would like to see the continuation of its national status and which in no way undermines their national unity. The Slavo-Macedonian population at least should be convinced that it is not the Tirana Albanians nor those of Kosovo, but those of Skopje that constitute a greater possible threat to their existence and their interests than the Greeks do. Once convinced, they will need to be less inflexible, as we too will certainly need to be more flexible over the question of the name so that the differences can be resolved now. If it is right and fair for Greece to assist FYROM diplomatically, economically and politically (in the form of a “package” or in some other way), why should it not do so from the aspect of security too, so that the country would not be in danger from the winds of destabilization which are blowing over the area again and which may very soon blow even harder. And if the need arose, this could be guaranteed with U.S. backing.

“&Mac182;” believes that it is G. Papandreou’s duty to the nation to revive the question of resolving our differences today, and to ask for help, and if necessary, intervention from Colin Powell and Xavier Solana. It is certain that the Slavo-Macedonians will not misinterpret it as a gauche action or coercion. On the contrary, such a development could be seen to be of benefit to them too. At a time when they are coming under pressure from the Albanians and will also come under pressure from the International Community for constitutional changes and concessions towards the Albanian element, perhaps they should take the plunge and propose changes in the preamble to their Constitution, so their differences with Greece can be resolved.

Such an act could redeem both leaders and people, but could also act as a stabilizing force in the ethnic balance of the newly founded state. It may appear that neither side has given ground to the other and that neither community has lost face in the eyes of the other, but as the question of the constitution will be opened in any case in order to resolve differences with Athens, the opportunity can be seized to resolve those inter-ethnic differences and modify the effect on the structure, establishment and functioning of their state.

Such a development must find the moderate FYROM Albanians in agreement too, as well as the “centres” in Tirana and Kosovo. And when all is said and done, if Colin Powell and Xavier Solana do not agree, they can be made to understand…


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