TENSIONS IN ROME
Greece blamed the officials and church leaders in Macedonia of irredentist policy that jeopardizes the Balkans' stability and hampers the country's entry into EU and
The latest verbal flare-up came during a memorial service in Rome at the tomb of St. Cyril on Saturday, after the statement of Archbishop Stefan, the head of Macedonian Orthodox Church, who claimed that Greece denies the existence of the Macedonian nation and Macedonian Church.
"St. Cyril, today in your and our Thessaloniki, everything you did has turned to stone. Today, in your city of birth, everything has been rendered ashes and dust, and not a single letter remains from your and our language. Today it is forbidden not only that this language be spoken, but its very existence itself. Everything Macedonian is persecuted and displaced, while the name of our country and church, and the truth itself, is disputed," Archbishop Stefan said during the memorial event for St Cyril held at San Clemente church in the Vatican.
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said "such irredentist statements are dangerous for regional cooperation and stability in the fragile region of the Balkans".
Bakoyannis said Archbishop Stefan's statements, made in the presence of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, were "extremely provocative and totally unacceptable", and proved "firstly, the correctness of the Greek arguments and stands that insist on the need for resolving the name issue.
"As long as the problem remains unsolved, it will serve as the tool and vehicle of an outdated and historically unfounded irredentism that is dangerous for regional cooperation and stability of the fragile region of the Balkans," Bakoyannis said.
"The neighbouring country cannot look forward to Euro-Atlantic future as long as it remains captive to irredentist rationales of the past," she added.
On behalf of the Greek Church, Metropolitan Antimos of Thessaloniki made it clear that Greece would never agree that Macedonia name be stolen or used by its northern neighbours.
Thessaloniki mayor and MPs of various parties joined the condemnation. A number of daily newspapers commented the statement of Archbishop Stefan.
MD: Nicely said by Archbishop Stefan!!