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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-06-11

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Burns praises Greece's success, stability

  • [01] Burns praises Greece's success, stability

    US Undersecretary of State for political affairs Nicholas Burn on Monday pointed directly to the Kosovo issue, as well as the situation in the Balkans in general, as dominating his talks here with Greek leadership, as the State Department's "No. 3" diplomat reiterated that Washington is "anxious to have a resolution that would lead the way for (Kosovo's) independence".

    Burns arrived in Athens for a whirlwind round of talks with Greek leadership, including Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and main opposition leader and former foreign minister George Papandreou, as he twice stressed that Washington considers Greece as both a "friend and ally".

    Burns clarified that ongoing debate at the United Nations revolves around a possible resolution allowing for an interim period dedicated to negotiations, something he said has Washington's support on the condition that independence follows for the Serbian province. He added that 11 out of 15 UNSC members currently want a vote "now", while noting towards the end of his comments that Russia "is quite isolated" on the specific issue.

    Asked about the substance of any new UN resolution for Kosovo, Burns added that Washington nevertheless agrees with a Russian demand for a special emissary for Serbian affairs in any future Kosovo regime, saying such a proposal is "normal".

    FYROM "name issue"

    Regarding the nagging "name issue" still preventing a full normalisation of relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and its repercussions on FYROM's prospective NATO membership, Burns said:

    "I think that it's too early to try to force the question on the name, NATO and all that, because there have been no invitations extended by NATO. Now, that could happen, or, it could not next year, depending on the pace of reform in (the Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia ... It's only then that this issue has to be decided upon. In the meantime, it makes more sense for us that the United States not interject itself publicly into something and make things difficult for either government.

    "We'd much rather say 'it would be good to have direct contacts between the two governments'," he underlined, again reiterating Washington's support for UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz's mediation on the "name issue" between Athens and Skopje, in tandem with the US's volition, as he stressed, not to become an intermediary in this dispute.

    Furthermore, he said Nimetz's efforts should be allowed to proceed so that a compromise may be found, while reminding, in answer to another press question, that Washington has officially only officially supported Croatia's bid to join NATO.

    Asked if he requested a larger military presence by Greece in a NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, Burns said Washington is requesting more military trainers "in country" from NATO member-states, including Greece.

    On a lighter note, the one-time US ambassador to Greece cited what he called the "extraordinary changes" he saw in terms of infrastructure in the Greek capital.

    "I think Greece is at a great moment, as an outsider and as a philhellene; to me Greece is very successful, very stable, and a full member of the EU and NATO; it's a good time for Greece; it's a good time for the Greece-US relations," Burns said in prefacing his comments during a press briefing at the US ambassador's residence.

    Burns' official talks in Athens coincide with an event on Monday evening at outgoing US ambassador Charles Ries' residence honouring the 60th anniversary of the influential Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of war-devastated Europe.

    Caption: US Under Secretary of State for political affairs Nicholas Burns speaks to reporters in Athens on Monday, June 11, 2007. ANA-MPA / M. Kiaou.


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