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Dialogue between President Bush and Mitsotakis on FYROM revealed through declassified document

Website ThePresident unveiled an unpublished document that sheds light in the background after the birth of the Balkan state of FYROM and Greece's diplomatic battle.

This document has been declassified, that is, it is no longer secret and is of particular value in order to understand the truth and to refute various "arguments" launched by SYRIZA on the national position of the country in 1992.

This paper is an excerpt from the minutes of the Greek Prime Minister's discussion with the US President in the White House in November 1992 and describes how Konstantinos Mitsotakis persuaded the late US President, Bush in order to delay FYROM's inclusion in the UN, as they did not go back on the use of the name "Macedonia".

Therefore, this parameter is a useful material for historians who are examining the issue.

According to the minutes of the meeting of President Bush with Konstantinos Mitsotakis, "The Greek Prime Minister has warned the US President that if the word" Macedonia "is included in the name of the new republic, there will be real destabilization in the region.

In addition, K. Mitsotakis informed President Bush that only 17% of Skopje citizens want this name, while assuring him that there is a uniform attitude in Greece for this issue.

There is a dialogue between the two men:

The President: Are you optimistic? We have a lot of hope. 

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: I'll make no forecasts. What I tried to explain to Secretary Eagleburger and General Scowcroft is that our approach is a positive one. We want this republic to exist and we have taken several initiatives in this sense. For one, there is the border guarantees. Albania, Bulgaria, and Serbia all made this declaration. What we cannot accept is their official name to include the term Macedonia. 

I'll be very frank. If something like that were to happen, there will be real destabilization. But this issue can be settled now as a starting point for a positive approach. So far with Yugoslavia we have had a lot of failures, why not success for once? The inclusion of Macedonia in their official name is
desired by less that 50% of the people. A recent poll there resulted in no more than 17% of the population wanting that name.

The President: Then why does the administration of Macedonia get
so hung up on the name? 

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: There is something behind it, from the period under communism. It is not easy for the present administration to release from old habits. Democracy in this area will be an exaggeration. The old line communists under Tito still hold power. But Gligorov is a serious man. A deal could be reached with him. This is why the solution like we have suggested is a good formula. 

The President: I'll make a statement, and I would like you to tell me what's wrong with it. But first, I do want to say that I value our relations. Every American knows that our relations are far, far better.

But my statement is this: This Republic has gone about the achieving of its democracy and status in accord with Helsinki principles. It has proceeded and conducted itself in an almost exemplary way. So I'm saying two things: They've observed Helsinki Accords and their performance has been exemplary. Do you agree with those points, or do Greeks see things differently?

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: I would not agree that they are an exemplary democracy. But it is a republic we could tolerate.

The President: No, I'm not saying an exemplary democracy, but rather that they have pursued it in an exemplary way. 

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: I agree. Yes. This is precisely why we have no problems with this republic and we want it to exist. But we can't accept the name. After Lisbon -- which justified us -- the reaction of Gligorov has been to provoke Greece. This republic was set up by Tito and Stalin after WWII in order to ... United States; my generation remembers it. But the people in
power in Skopje are the same -- when they use this name, we become very suspicious. We want them to stop using this term and implying they have claims on us. Even in their constitution they have provision for nationals abroad, including in Greece. This is why we make the single request that they chose another name.
We cannot accept this -- any Greek government could not. Otherwise we would be destabilized.

The President: I wanted to be sure, there's nothing else that would cause you problems. 

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: Another problem I ask for U.S. to help to prevent the admission of this country in the UN because if they are admitted, this discussion is valueless. 

The President: But if you have no problem with the name, it can
go ahead. 

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: I ask if you can help postpone.

Acting Secretary Eagleburger: We'll see what we can do. 

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: It is very important. It would be a tragedy. I can't afford it. I don't exaggerate, I try to compromise. But if this happens this would be a tragedy for Greece and for me. 

The President: Is there any division of opinion on this at home in Greece? 

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: No. It is the only issue where Papandreou and my ex-Foreign Minister Samaras and I agree.

The President: We want to try to be helpful, maybe we can help delay. 

Acting Secretary Eagleburger: It won't be coming up before Edinburgh. If a solution is found, there will be no problem.

President Bush: Are You Optimistic? We have great hopes.

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: I will not give any predictions. I tried to explain to Secretary Eagleburger and General Scowcroft that our approach is positive. We want this democracy to exist and we have taken a number of initiatives on this issue. For example, there are border guarantees. Both Albania and Bulgaria and Serbia accept these guarantees.

What we can not accept is that it will contain their official name "Macedonia". I will be very honest. If this happens, there will be a real destabilization. But solving this issue may be the beginning of a positive approach. So far, with Yugoslavia, we have had a lot of failures, because at least once did not succeed?

The accession of "Macedonia" to the UN with its official name desires less than 50% of its citizens. The results of a recent survey were that only 17% of the population wanted this name.

President Bush: Then why was the government of "Macedonia" so committed to this name?

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: There is something behind this name, since the time of communism. It is not easy for today's government to get rid of old habits. It will be excessive if one says there is democracy in this region. Tito's old Communist line still has power. But Gligorov is a serious person. An agreement could be reached with him. That is why the solution we propose is a good formula.

President Bush: I'm going to make a statement and I would like to ask if I make anything wrong with it. But first, I want to say that we appreciate our relations. Every American knows that our relationships are much better. But my statement is as follows: This country has continued to build democracy and its status according to the Helsinki Principles in an almost exemplary way.

So I want to say two things: that they have accepted the Helsinki Agreement and that their achievements are exemplary. Do you agree with these points or do the Greeks see things differently?

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: Well, I would not agree that they have an exemplary democracy. But it is a democracy that we could tolerate.

President Bush: No, I do not say exemplary democracy, but they do it in an exemplary way.

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: I agree. Yes. That is why we have no problems with this democracy and we want it to exist. But we can not accept the name. After Lisbon - which supported our positions - Gligorov's reaction was to provoke Greece. This democracy was formed by Tito and Stalin after the Second World War. My generation remembers this. But the people in power in Skopje are the same, and when they use this name, we are very suspicious. We want to stop using this term and imply that we owe them something. Even in their constitution they have a provision for foreigners (minorities) abroad, including in Greece. That is why we have the simple requirement to choose another name. We can not accept this - no Greek government will be able to do so.

President Bush: I wanted to be sure there was nothing else to cause you problems.

Prime Minister Mitsotakis: Another problem I ask the United States to apologize.

 

Read the full declassified text here:  https://bush41library.tamu.edu/files/memcons-telcons/1992-11-17--Mitsotakis.pdf