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Greek Minister Says Europe Divided on Kosovo

Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told a Washington audience Wednesday the European Union is divided on whether to officially recognize Kosovo as a territory independent of Serbia. VOA's Barry Wood has more.

Bakoyannis makes clear that Greece is in no hurry to recognize Kosovo, which is expected to declare its independence from Serbia by the end of the month. Speaking at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, she stressed the importance of the 27 European Union members reaching a common stance on Kosovo.

Under the plan for Kosovo's supervised independence the EU will take over most of the functions of the United Nations, which has administered the territory since 1999.

Bakoyannis says Monday's meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels will have Kosovo high on the agenda.

"The European Union needs much more discussion if we want to have a united position. And it is needed on Kosovo more than any other place," she said.

On another Balkans-related topic, Bakoyannis says that, while Greece favors NATO membership for Croatia, Albania and Macedonia, the absence of good relations between Greece and its northern neighbor Macedonia presents a problem. Greece has threatened to block Macedonia's membership unless Skopje agrees to change the name of its country.

Bakoyannis says the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim on Greece's northern Macedonia province.

"I really hope that our friends in Skopje will understand that the common Euro-Atlantic future can not be based on irredentist ideas of yesterday, but on positive ideas for a better European future of tomorrow," she said.

A UN envoy in coming days is expected to make new proposals for resolving the long-standing dispute over Macedonia's name.

Macedonia is bordered on the north by Kosovo and one third of its population is ethnic Albanian. There are fears that if Macedonia fails to gain admission to NATO, it could enter a period of ethnic upheaval.