Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyiannis met with senior US and UN officials during her five day visit to the United States last week.
Bakoyiannis met with the US Secretary State Hilary Clinton and with Vice President Jo Biden whilst in Washington as well as appearing before the United Nation’s Security Council in her capacity as Greek Foreign Minister and chairperson of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Her meetings in both cities saw Bakoyiannis discuss OSCE issues as well as on issues of mutual interest, both international and regional, such as the Middle East and the Caucasus as well as the situation in the Balkans, relations with Turkey and the issue of Cyprus.
Greece and the United States have agreed to increase the “strategic co-operation” between both countries following the meeting between Bakoyiannis and US Secretary State Hilary Clinton last Wednesday. They also discussed Greece’s role as the current president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as well as the Cyprus problem and Turkey’s actions in the Aegean.
Addressing the United Nations Security Council last Friday in her capacity as chairperson of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Bakoyannis said that Greece would try to encourage the OSCE to take a more prominent role in managing international crises, which would mean working more closely with other organisations such as the UN.
Apart from monitoring the situation in Georgia, restructuring the international presence in Kosovo is also high on the OSCE agenda, according to Bakoyannis.
The Greek Foreign Minister also met with UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz who indicated that there is unlikely to be any significant progress on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the near future. Bakoyiannis focused on issues of purely Greek interest during talks with Nimetz but sources said that the two diplomats simply reviewed the state of affairs and that both agreed that there is little point in attempting to revive negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at this point.
Nimetz is said to have pointed out that FYROM is due to hold presidential and local elections on March 22, while Greece has European parliamentary polls lined up for June 7 and that experience has shown that pre-election periods are not conducive to producing meaningful positions from either side.
Sources suggest Nimetz is due to pay a visit to Athens and Skopje in April, more as a symbolic gesture than with the aim of achieving any progress.
The Greek Foreign Minister began her trip to Washington earlier in the week with an address to the influential Brookings Institute where she spoke about “Collective Security in the 21st century.” Bakoyannis said: “Let me be as clear as I can. For us there is no doubt that the only way forward is full membership in the European Union and NATO for the whole of South East Europe”.
Bakoyiannis said that Greece, as the oldest European Union and NATO member in the region, felt a heightened responsibility to assist its neighbours on their road to progress through the necessary change and reform.
In addressing development in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the prolonged and unresolved dispute between Athens and Skopje over the naming issue, Bakoyiannis said that “despite our good will and our sincere efforts, these negotiations have not been successful so far.
“We hope that the government of Skopje will meet us half-way and agree on a win-win solution,” she said.
Bakoyiannis also met with members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs and the US Helsinki Committee, which monitors security and co-operation in Europe.