Greece reacted immediately on Sunday to the latest provocation emanating from a high-profile official from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), with the foreign minister referring directly to "outdated and historically baseless irredentism", in reference to statements in Rome by the head of the unrecognised so-called "Macedonian Orthodox Church".
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said such irredentist statements are dangerous for "regional cooperation and stability in the fragile region of the Balkans".
The latest verbal flare-up ahead of elections in the land-locked Balkan country next week came during a memorial service in Rome at the tomb of St. Cyril on Saturday, in the presence of FYROM political leadership.
Bakoyannis said Archbishop Stefanos' statements, made in the presence of FYROM Premier Nikola Gruevski, were "extremely provocative and totally unacceptable", and proved "firstly, the correctness of the Greek arguments, stance and policy, which insists on the need for resolving the name problem.
"Secondly, that as long as the problem remains unsolved, it will serve as the tool and vehicle of an outdated and historically unfounded irredentism that is dangerous for regional cooperation and stability of the fragile region of the Balkans ... and thirdly, that the neighbouring country (FYROM), so long as it remains captive to irredentist rationales of the past, cannot look forward to a European and Euro-Atlantic future".
Furthermore, the Greek FM noted that this "also confirms the correctness of the NATO decision at the recent summit in Bucharest," a reference to the lack of an invitation towards FYROM to join the Alliance.
"The least one can expect is an immediate condemnation by the political leadership of Skopje of all the unacceptable comments that were made," Bakoyannis added.
During a memorial event for St. Cyril in Rome on Saturday, officiated by Stefanos, the Archbishop said: "St. Cyril, today in your and our Thessaloniki, everything that 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. In the region where they once spoke as you and we, today it is forbidden not only that this language be spoken, but its very existence itself. Unfortunately, everything 'Macedonian' is persecuted and displaced, while the name of our country and church, and the truth itself, is disputed".
Gruevski attended the event, heading a FYROM governmental delegation.
Caption: ANA-MPA photo of FM Dora Bakoyannis.