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Last Updated: Friday, 5 November, 2004, 17:01 GMT
Greek press slams US-Macedonia ties
From left: Macedonian president, prime minister, foreign minister
Macedonian officials are delighted by the US decision

Papers in Greece take the US administration to task over a decision to refer to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) simply as "Macedonia".

Greece objects because Macedonia is also the name of its northern province, which is the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

In Macedonia, the foreign minister went on air to hail what she called "an historic day, an excellent day" for the republic.

"Bad friends Americans... A diplomatic stab at Athens," says a headline in the independent Greek daily To Vima.

A front-page editorial, however, urges the Greek government to respond with caution.

"Outrage (even if completely justified) is not the best adviser," it says.

"We now need cool-headedness and organisation for the Greek response to the US provocation. There are many weapons. It is an issue for imagination and determination - and timing."

The independent daily I Kathimerini complains bitterly of the "political impropriety of the United States".

There is a very short distance from the US congratulations over the Olympic Games to yesterday's diplomatic blow, if the superpower decides so
Elevtheros Tipos

"It is ignoring the UN, recognising 'Macedonia' and causing outrage in Athens," the paper says.

It adds that the Greek government is now pinning its hopes on the EU, which Macedonia wants to join.

"In the context of the EU and of Nato, Greece will be able to bring pressure to bear for the continued use of the provisional name and for a compromise solution to be achieved by March."


"Macedonian warrior's gunfight," says a headline in the leftist Elevtherotipia. President George Bush, the paper says, "again scorns the UN and delivers a blow at dawn".

A cartoon shows Macedonian soldiers accompanied by US cavalry entering Greece, while an editorial says the president is behaving in a typical "cowboy, gunslinger" fashion.

The left-of-centre daily Ta Nea in turn has a front-page cartoon showing the United States presenting a gift to FYROM, labelled "recognition as Macedonia".

FYROM shouts with excitement, while the US says: "Don't shout or you'll wake up [Greek Prime Minister] Karamanlis".

The paper carries contradictory reports. Some suggest the authorities in Athens had no indication of the US intention, while others say "they knew, but were caught by surprise".

With the unacceptable recognition of FYROM, Bush has delivered a stab

The right-wing Elevtheros Tipos speaks of Washington's "harsh message", adding that this proves the US does not allow for any "privileged handling of obedient states".

"It also proves that there is a very short distance from the US congratulations over the Olympic Games to yesterday's diplomatic blow, if the superpower decides so," the paper adds.

Deep sleep

The left-of-centre Ethnos accuses Prime Minister Karamanlis of not responding to the challenge.

"A stab from Bush, Karamanlis is hiding!" reads one headline. "Athens in a deep sleep," says another.

"With the unacceptable recognition of FYROM, Bush has delivered a stab. Karamanlis is absent and did not make any statement on the issue," the paper says.

The independent financial daily Imerisia makes a similar point.

"Shock after the lack of action," it says. "The government asleep, although it knew of Washington's plans."

The independent weekly Paraskevi +13 headlines its comment: "Bush's crime with FYROM."

"Bush is a good Christian, but an even better godfather," the paper says. While keeping up the religious imagery, another article proclaims: "Bush has baptised FYROM Macedonia."

In Macedonia itself, Skopje's Sitel TV said that negotiations on the recognition "lasted for some time" and involved only a few individuals to ensure secrecy, "for fear of Greece's reactions and its possible lobbying against the US decision".

Not even Prime Minister Hari Kostov knew about the talks, which were led by President Branko Crvenkovski, the TV said.

Interviewed by Macedonian MTV1, Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva welcomed the US decision. "This is the gesture of a friend, partner and ally," she said.

She added that it had been a "truly arduous diplomatic battle, which warranted a great deal of caution and discretion".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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Country profile: Greece
04 Aug 04 |  Country profiles

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