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1992 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with Mr Constantine Mitsotakis

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with the Greek Prime Minister, Mr Constantine Mitsotakis, held in Athens on Friday 27th November 1992.


PRIME MINISTER MITSOTAKIS:

We had a very useful review of all issues and a discussion with Prime Minister Major, who was presiding over the Council of Heads of State and Government.

We discussed all the issues that are on the agenda of the Edinburgh summit; we talked about Denmark, enlargement; we talked about the Cohesion Fund, the Structural Funds, subsidiarity; we talked about all the issues that are of interest to the Community. We talked also about former Yugoslavia and about the very interesting question for my country, Greece, that of the Republic of Skopje, and I must say that I am very satisfied with the discussion because our views are converging and we had the opportunity to go ahead with an in-depth analysis on all these issues.

We will continue our talks tomorrow morning and I would like to grasp this opportunity in order to thank John Major for his visit which has proved extremely useful.

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just add a very brief word or two to that.

It is a very great pleasure to have the opportunity of having these discussions again with the Prime Minister. We have enjoyed our previous discussions, tonight has been very worthwhile, very fruitful and has been of considerable assistance in moving towards a satisfactory Community agreement at the meeting in Edinburgh in a few days time.

We have, as the Prime Minister said, been able to discuss the whole range of issues, many of them in some considerable detail, as we look forward to the discussions that we have in Edinburgh.

We have a very crowded agenda there but I think there are many areas where there is a very strong convergence of view between the United Kingdom and Greece and I look forward to nailing down those agreements at Edinburgh in a few days time.

The Prime Minister has made clear that we will be resuming our discussions in the morning; we have enjoyed them to such an extent that we thought an 8.15 further discussion would be a very good idea tomorrow morning and I look forward to that. I think, if the Prime Minister is content, we will be happy to take a couple of questions.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION:

I would like to put a question to you, Prime Minister, concerning the Edinburgh summit. Does the agenda of that summit include any discussion of the Republic of Skopje issue? I would also like to ask you whether you discussed an eventual trip of our Prime Minister to Serbia.

PRIME MINISTER:

On the first point, we are considering precisely what the agenda at Edinburgh should be at the present. I think it very likely that the subject of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be raised. It is not certain yet but it is a matter we discussed at Lisbon; it is a matter of concern we know in Greece and elsewhere and across the Community and it is very likely that we shall wish to take the views of the Prime Minister and others on this important subject.

On the second half of the question, in terms of a visit by the Prime Minister to Serbia, that is one of the matters that I shall wish to discuss with my European colleagues and discuss again with the Prime Minister.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, until now the European Community has stood by Greece in its dispute with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the name issue. I would like to ask you in your capacity as President of the European Council today, do you think that at the Edinburgh summit the European Community will continue to support Greece over that issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

We share with the Prime Minister a wish to see a solution to this problem. I know that is the view of Prime Minister Mitsotakis - it is the view of the rest of the European Community - and we will be discussing ways to reach a satisfactory conclusion that is satisfactory right the way across the Community and right the way beyond it. Those are the matters that we will be discussing and I think that will be the same in the future as in the past.

QUESTION:

Influential figures like Robin O'Neal and also Lord Owen favour recognition of Macedonia at Edinburgh in order to preserve the stability of the region. Which would you think is the lesser of two evils, the instability in Macedonia or the instability of the Mitsotakis government?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is quite like being back in London! I am not going to get drawn down the question of internal politics in Greece. That would not be pertinent, it would not be prudent and it would not be polite. Let me just simply say that I have a great admiration for my friend the Prime Minister.

On the first part of your question, I simply repeat what I said a moment ago: we have a shared interest in reaching a satisfactory conclusion to this problem and that interest is shared with all our Community partners.

QUESTION:

I would like to ask you, Sir, if you discussed tonight with the Greek Prime Minister the idea of a double name of Skopje - an internal name and an external, international one - and what you think about that?

PRIME MINISTER:

We discussed all these issues and we are still discussing them.