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to Secretary of State Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madame Secretary:
On behalf of the nationwide membership of the American Hellenic Institute
(AHI), we congratulate you on your appointment and confirmation as Secretary
of State. We wish you every success as you forge ahead in your very important
task of developing and carrying out the foreign policy agenda of the Administration.
As you begin to formulate and advance the foreign policy objectives of the
Administration, we look forward to working with you and your staff to strengthen
the historic bonds of friendship between the United States and Greece, our long-time
faithful ally, and to improve upon the good relations between the United States
In this regard, we take the opportunity to write to you in advance of your
forthcoming meeting on February 25, 2009 with the Foreign Minister of Greece,
Dora Bakoyiannis, in order to bring to your attention a number of issues for
The projection of U.S. interests in the region depends heavily on the stability
of the region. Therefore, the United States has an important stake in fostering
good relations between two NATO allies, Greece and Turkey, and in achieving a
just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Greece is of vital
importance for the projection of U.S. strategic interests in the region by virtue
of, among other factors, its geographic location and its role as home to the
most important naval base in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Souda Bay, Crete.
A key to stability in the region is for Greece and Turkey to have good relations
with each other, promote democratic ideals and principles, and maintain growing
economies. However, Turkey’s continuing occupation of Cyprus, its
intransigence in solving the Cyprus problem, its refusal to recognize the Republic
of Cyprus and its veto to the accession of Cyprus to international organizations,
its continuing violations of Greece’s territorial waters and airspace,
and continuing religious and human rights violations in Turkey, threatens and
prevents this stability, and damages U.S. interests.
As important as these matters are, for the purpose of this visit, we highlight
the very sensitive issue concerning Greece—the ongoing name issue
regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as it relates to
our interests and that of our most important ally in the Balkans—Greece.
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
As you know, President Barack Obama,
while in the Senate, was one of three original lead co-sponsors of Senate Resolution
300, which urged that the FYROM work with Greece within the framework of the
United Nations process to reach a mutually acceptable official name for that
country and achieve longstanding U.S. and U.N. policy goals.
In a statement that his campaign released to the Greek American community
in October 2008, he stated:
“…[I] support the UN-led negotiations and believe that there
can and should be an agreement between Skopje and Athens on a mutually-acceptable
name that leads to greater stability in the Balkans.”
Greece is by far
the strategic key for the United States in the Balkans and the most economic
and politically stable country in the Balkans. By contrast,
the FYROM is of little or no strategic significance to the national security
interests of the United States.
However, the continuing intransigent and provocative
actions by the government of the FYROM against its neighbor, Greece, poses a
potential threat to stability in the Balkans, to the detriment of U.S. interests.
the same time, it seems that it has been the U.S.’s policy to take Greece
for granted over the years. The sensitivities and concerns of our most
important ally in the Balkans, and one of our most loyal and long-time allies
have not always been considered. Successive administrations have
looked upon Greece as a Western nation and an ally that will not rock the boat
and will follow what the United States and the major NATO nations desire. This
policy has been unfortunate and has created unnecessary problems -- such as the
FYROM name issue.
Greece has made a major compromise by proposing “a compound
name for the country; a name that will distinguish it from both the Greek and
Bulgarian part.” Greece’s
position is unambiguous. It has gone the extra mile. It wants a negotiated,
mutually acceptable solution that will be valid internationally, in accordance
with the U.N. Security Council resolutions. Foreign Minister Bakoyannis publicly
expressed Greece’s readiness to accept a composite name. This is
a serious shift of tremendous importance from Greece’s initial position.
Unfortunately, this gesture was not reciprocated by the FYROM. The time is ripe
for FYROM to demonstrate the maturity and the responsibility that a state needs
in order to become a member of NATO and the European Union.
The United States can easily turn the situation around by informing FYROM
that it supports the Greek government’s major compromise of accepting “a
compound name for their country, a name that will distinguish it from both the
Greek and Bulgarian” part.
immediate settlement of the name issue, in a way that is acceptable to Greece,
will allow the United States’ strongest ally in the Balkans to be the driving
force for FYROM’s membership to NATO and ultimately to the European Union. FYROM’s “passport” to
NATO and the European Union is Greece.
however, FYROM, that is the intransigent party in this regard, and not Greece.
FYROM must realize that in order to join NATO, it must focus on the fulfillment
of NATO’s good neighborly relations principle and the immediate settlement
of the difference over the name. Greece is the biggest investor in FYROM
and literally helps to sustain FYROM’s precarious economy and reduces its
large unemployment. Greece is also a leader in investment and economic
development in Southeastern Europe, with over $22 billion invested.
continues to provoke Greece and refuses to negotiate in good faith over the name
issue. Unfortunately, actions over the years -- such as distortion
of geographic maps, naming its airport “Alexander the Great,” revisionist
textbooks in schools and inflammatory comments by top government officials --
encourage new generations in FYROM to cultivate hostile sentiments against Greece.
Further, this continuing systematic government policy will hinder FYROM’s
accession to both the EU and NATO. This is the real threat to stability in the
Further, since Prime Minister of the FYROM, Mr. Nikola Gruevski,
came to power in August 2006 he has followed a long-term policy of extreme nationalism
and provocation against Greece, in a manner which is totally inconsistent with
European values. This conscious political decision is being implemented through
numerous actions and statements, which breach essential provisions of the Interim
Accord and undermine the efforts to build a climate of trust, cooperation and
good neighbourly relations.
Most recently, Prime Minister Gruevski has:
- named part of the Pan-European Corridor that runs through FYROM’s territory,
after Alexander the Great. It should be noted that this project is partly financed
by Greece which has pledged the amount of $75 million in the framework of the
Hellenic Plan for the Reconstruction of the Balkans
- renamed the main stadium of Skopje after "Philip II, the Macedon;" and
- re-introduced the "Sun of Vergina" as a symbol of his country in
government financed TV spots broadcasted internationally. It should be noted
that FYROM has committed itself to cease to use in any way the “Sun of
Vergina” in all its forms.
It’s also worth noting that on February 4, 2009, 27 NGO’s in FYROM
issued a statement condemning FYROM’s government policy against Greece
and have severely criticized Prime Minister Gruevski’s decision to rename
part of the Pan-European Corridor “Alexander of Macdon,” as antiquity
Unfortunately, the irresponsible decision by the previous administration
in the fall of 2004 to recognize FYROM as the “Republic of Macedonia” has
contributed greatly to FYROM’s increasingly intransigent stance and has
served to undermine the negotiations.
In our view, and in the view of many others,
U.S. actions over the years regarding the FYROM name dispute have constituted
an American foreign policy blunder that has damaged U.S. interests in the Western
Balkans and harmed Greece, our key ally in the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean,
for no sound reason.
For the record, there is no unqualified universally accepted
rule of international law that authorizes a state to name itself anything it
Therefore, we call upon you, Madame Secretary, to please use your influence
with FYROM to impress upon them to negotiate in good faith with Greece to resolve
the name issue and to cease immediately their irredentist propaganda against
Greece, which violates the UN-brokered Interim Accord, as stated in Article 7
paragraph 1 of the Accord, signed in New York on September 13 1995 between FYROM
A name that satisfies both countries and the immediate halting
of all provocative actions against Greece will satisfy the interests of all the
If FYROM refuses to cooperate, the United States should consider withdrawing
its 2004 recognition of FYROM as the “Republic of Macedonia.”
We write this in the interests of the United States and for the support of our
long-time and loyal ally, Greece, who is our most important strategic partner
in the region and the key country for stability in the region.
Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Daniel Fried
Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Matthew Bryza
Southern European Affairs Kathy Fitzpatrick
Desk Officer Adam Scarlatelli
of Macedonia” Desk Officer Anna Stinchcomb
The American Hellenic Institute is a nonprofit public policy organization
that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus,
and also within the American Hellenic community.
1220 16th Street,
NW | Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone 202-785-8430 | Fax 202-785-5178 | www.ahiworld.org