Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias welcomed a statement by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, calling for a measured and clear-minded handling of the FYROM naming issue, by all the parties involved, and at the same time criticised UN envoy Matthew Nimetz for misrepresenting Greece’s position on the issues of identity in the ongoing talks with FYROM.
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the Mother Church of all the Churches of the Balkan peninsula, and on the occasion of discussions regarding the issue of the name of FYROM, calls upon all interested parties to exhibit clear-mindedness and self-restraint, so that this crucial and delicate issue may be addressed peacefully and prudently,” the patriarchal statement read.
In his response, Kotzias thanked the patriarch and at the same time issued a stern warning to UN envoy Matthew Nimetz, who is the UN’s mediator in the talks, not to publicly represent the views of Athens.
Nimetz declared that Athens has not raised the issue of the identity of the citizens of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The Kotzias statement
The Greek foreign minister’s statement is as follows:
“I salute today the statement of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, who with seriousness and a sense of responsibility, and fulfiling the role of the Church, issued a call for clear-mindedness, and self-constraint, so as to address this critical and delicate issue peacefully and prudently.
This evening, I had a lengthy conversation with the Personal Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Matthew Nimetz, who returned from Skopje. I underlined with clarity and strictly that he is not competent to speak about what the policy of Athens is, or to describe it, and indeed in an erroneous manner.
Based on the briefing I received on the discussions Mr. Nimetz had in Skopje, I expressed with the greatest clarity the position that the negotiations cannot but be conducted as a continuation of all that was agreed to in Davos. Every negotiation that is conducted with good will is based on the convergences already achieved.”