The Macedonian Tendency: What Greek Aid?

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Greek Aid?

By David Edenden

This is a good example of of how Macedonian new agencies can respond to Greek propaganda and provocations. It responds aggressively by quoting Macedonian sources. Makfax should learn this lesson and stop reprinting Greek propaganda under its byline with comment.

Skopje, October 18 (MIA) - Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who is attending the European People’s Party (EPP) summit in Lisbon, and Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki, who is visiting London, will present tomorrow Macedonia's stance on Greece's announcement for suspending the economic assistance to the country via the foreign ministry's ambitious Balkan reconstruction aid programme, government officials told journalists on Thursday.

Macedonia respected all techical aspects and the entire correspondence with Greece was in line with the Interim Agreement, which clearly defines the manner of corresponding between the two countries, the officials said.

- Foreign assistance to Macedonia is being realized via the Secreteriat of European Affairs. The Republic of Macedonia's memo has been always used for application, and if Greece is not accepting such document, it should inform us. So far, we have not received such letter of information, officals of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Only six percent out of the announced 74,8 assistance package has been realized so far for minor projects, they said.

Yesterday the Greek news agency ANA said that Greece was suspending the economic assistance to Macedonia.

During a meeting of Parliament's standing committee on foreign affairs and defence, which debated a relevant draft bill, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis said "FYROM had not been included in the group of countries eligible for an extension (of the plan) to 2011, due to an absence of a written response from that country (FYROM). This does not mean that development aid to FYROM is frozen. Projects begun and underway are continuing and funding (for those projects) will exhausted…" Kassimis said.

The Greek minister said the Skopje government had responded as "Republic of Macedonia" to diplomatic correspondence sent by the Greek foreign ministry to all beneficiary countries. Athens queried partnership countries on whether they agree with an extension of the programme to 2011, but without changes to the sums earmarked for individual countries and projects.
"Because Greece does not recognise any country with that name (i.e. 'Republic of Macedonia'), it considers that letter as not having been received, and has therefore excluded Skopje from the programme," Kassimis said.

Consequently, a relevant draft bill -- extending the programme for a further five years -- will be presented to Parliament for ratification without containing a provision for FYROM.
However today Kassimis said that EU funding to the neighbouring country was flowing at a slower pace than to the rest of the Balkan countries, pointing out that Greece does not want to stifle the country financially, "because it does not believe that economic degradation will create a better neighbour.

Greece's initial Balkan Reconstruction Plan covered the years 2002-2006. The programme contains a credit line of 550 million euros for various reconstruction projects in Balkan countries, with recipients including Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, the Kosovo province, Montenegro, Romania and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Approved credits for Macedonia during the period 2002-2006 totalled approximately 75 million euros.

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