Dimitrov: The essence of the compromise can be seen in the criticism issued from our and the Greek opposition

Skopje, 17 October, 2018 - 14:46 (META) 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs,Nikola Dimitrov replied to several questions posted by MPs at the Parliament and he said that Prespa Agreement ties the steps that Macedonia is undertaking towards EU and NATO with what is of interest for Greece in the Agreement.

–Because the NATO membership is tied to the implementation of the Agreement. That is why it is stated that at the same session when the Greek Parliament ratifies the Agreement, it will sign the protocols for Macedonia’s membership into NATO. The key criticism issue dby their opposition are the identity elements, and the key criticism issued by our opposition is the domain of its use. And here lies the essence of the compromise. Regarding the identity amendment, I had an encouraging reaction because anything that has to do with the identity of the Macedonian nation cannot be contradictory to the text in the Agreement that is providing the absolute right to self-identification – said Dimitrov.

He stressed that the former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was aware of these conditions dictated by Greece and that he was up to date with the process.

-In December 2009, at a television interview he said that Greece was demanding a change of the language for an internal use i.e. to state either new Macedonian or north Macedonian. On the 16th of November 2017, in an interview, he said that Greece doesn’t accept that our language and identity to be translated into English. With the Agreement, the geographic tag will not make us less than what we are today. While we are awaiting for a new chance neither the world nor Europe will wait, nor the Balkans can allow to miss chances – said Dimitro.

The MPs at the Parliament are having a break and the discussion about the constitutional amendments will resume at 15.30.

Samaras: We gave them everything and everyone will call them Macedonians

Thessaloniki, 8 October, 2018 - 12:55 (META) 

We will not let them sell our Macedonia. I always supported the idea that we cannot give to Skopje the name Macedonia because simply put, from that moment on, everyone will begin officially addressing them not as Northmacedonians, Uppermacedonians, but only as Macedonians, said the former Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, during his speech in front of the members of the Kavala Chamber of Commerce, at the official opening of the trading and business fair, said MIA’s correspondent.

He stressed that all future governments should reject the Prespa Agreement.

-With the Prespa Agreement, the Greek side officially gives Skopje the name Macedonia and a recognition of the nationality – alleged Macedonians and the recognition of the Macedonian language and recognition of the Macedonian identity. They gave them everything. Despite the real disagreements that existed in the past regarding the managing of the issue with different governments, no Greek politician ever accepted to recognize the Macedonian nation, language, and identity. No one – said Samaras.

As reports MIA’s correspondent from Athens, the former Greek Prime Minister, now a New Democracy MP, stresses that the opposition party, “as was announced by its party leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis will not vote for ratification, neither as a government nor as an opposition” and said that all next Greek governments will have to be released from the obligations stated in the Prespa Agreement.

The rift between Zaev and Ivanov is evident as Kathimerini reveals excerpts from the minutes

Athens, 2 October, 2018 - 12:20 (META) 

The minutes that were seen by journalists of the Kathimerini newspaper from the leadership meetings in Macedonia regarding the negotiations with Greece before the name agreement was to be signed in June show that the political leaders have thought that the agreement would be easier for signing with the left-wing government in Greece, informs Meta’s correspondent from Athens.

The two councils on January 27 and May 19 in Skopje were both chaired by President Gjorge Ivanov, informs Kathimerini. The first meeting took place less than two weeks before negotiations began in earnest under the aegis of United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz while the second was convened while the name Macedonia of Ilinden was being floated.

According to the minutes of the meetings – small excerpts of which were published on May 19 by German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – most of the elements of the Prespa agreement had already been agreed upon, with the exception of the name.

The minutes also reveal that, in January, Macedonia was not discussing the Greek demand for a constitutional review while the use of the name – internally and internationally – was under discussion.

The minutes make plain that Greece had agreed to recognize a Macedonian identity early on and a Macedonian language shortly thereafter. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was also seen in January to be keen on rapidly wrapping up the deal so that he could head for elections after the summer with a name agreement under his belt along with Greece’s bailout exit.

By May, however, this narrative had subsided. With regard to New Democracy, the minutes of the January council showed that its response to an agreement could be positive. However, this had changed by May, when Macedonia’s leader said a deal would not be achievable with an ND government. Both councils showed a clear chasm between Zaev’s government and Ivanov. The meetings also showed that there was concern about the dangers of Russian interference aimed at no-name deal being struck with Greece.

Meanwhile, the government’s spokesperson, Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, has greeted the high percentage of the turnout of those who have voted “For” at the referendum on Sunday, expressing a concern of the lower turnout.

Regardless of the objections from their coalition partner Panos Kamenos that the low turnout means that the referendum is “invalid” Tzanakopoulos that the outcome is “a positive development for the ratification and implementation of the Prespa Agreement” signed between Athens and Skopje in June.

The New Democracy said yesterday that the referendum results have proven that “the nationally damaging Prespa Agreement is literally hanging by a thread”. Spokesperson Marija Spyraki said that Greece “cannot be a hostage of the situation in our neighboring country”.

Greek MFA says the result of the referendum is contradictory, but they respect the choice of the citizens

Athens, 1 October, 2018 - 10:11 (META) 


Greece is following closely, albeit from the appropriate distance, the developments in the friendly country of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and remains committed to the Prespa Agreement.

The result of the referendum in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, though it is a consultative referendum and not part of the binding clauses of the Prespa agreement, is contradictory. A strongly predominant “Yes” without the corresponding participation; a large part of the neighboring country’s society supported the agreement.  Yet, an important part approached it with skepticism. Greece respects the choices of the citizens of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece believes, in general, that the climate of nationalism and suspicion, of daily fake news and rampant fanaticism, unfortunately do not allow for a sober assessment of the great benefits of the Agreement, while hindering the mutual understanding of peoples and the development of their cooperation, that are essential.

Extreme and aggressive forms of nationalism in our region, irresponsible behaviors on what concerns the region’s future and, getting caught up in irredentist stereotypes – when history should be a school and not a prison- do not provide positive prospects for the region in general.

The need for equitable cooperation is more and more felt in the region, as is the need for a culture of democratic dialogue to prevail, as well as for a culture of understanding and just compromises. The objections to the Prespa Agreement proved to be untrue and incorrect.

The next steps forward require sobriety by all sides, without exception, for the positive momentum of the Prespa Agreement to be preserved.


Tsipras: After 3 decades, the name dispute has come to an end

New York, 26 September, 2018 - 13:59 (META) 

Speaking at the Concordia Annual Summit in New York, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras discussed, among other things, initiatives for the Balkans, mentioning the name issue. The Greek prime minister said that after three decades the name dispute has come to an end, and his vision is that, as a leading force, Greece will lead the whole region to stability, co-operation and prosperity.

“We have taken important initiatives to make the Balkans a stable, safe and prosperous part of Europe. We have seen that there is a window of opportunity to overcome an issue that has been a thorn for Greece and Europe for almost three decades. The issue with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has come to an end. By respecting our history, with respect to our nations,” said Tsipras.

The Greek prime minister also touched on the economic crisis that Greece faces, saying that the country has already turned a new leaf and stands on its feet.

Regarding problems with refugees, Tsipras said it was a European problem that requires a common European coping strategy.

Sekerinska: Work on constitutional changes will begin after referendum

Skopje, 21 September, 2018 - 14:12 (META) 

We will not have any elections or a more clear demonstration than the upcoming referendum. This message will be conveyed to the public by September 30th, therefore our message is for everyone to exercise their right and express their opinion, said Minister of Defense Radmila Sekerinska while responding to a journalist’s question whether early parliamentary elections are plan “B” after MPs from VMRO – DPMNE said they will not vote on constitutional changes.

When asked whether the constitutional amendments made by the Greek side were received by the Macedonian government through the non-paper, Sekerinska pointed out that during this tome, they are being bombarded with lies and untruths. The goal, she said, is that we should again focus on the needs of the people, rather than focusing on the needs of VMRO-DPMNE and added that if the Greek side thinks that this should be done, it would be part of the agreement.

“The lies are here to not allow us to focus on the essence. We have signed an agreement and that agreement is binding. The obligations are ours, not Greek,” said Sekerinska.

Asked whether a new leadership meeting or political dialogue was needed after the referendum, Sekerinska said that “she does not believe Macedonia needs another round of negotiations on amnesty for crime and corruption.”

Kammenos: Regardless of the referendum, the Greek people will have the last word

Thessaloniki, 12 September, 2018 - 14:22 (META) 

Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the final word on the Prespa Accord will be given to the Greek people, either in a referendum or in elections, said the coalition partner in the Greek government Panos Kammenos, repeating his positions again, but revealing his next steps after Macedonia would complete the proposed obligations.

“My first proposal to the Prime Minister will be to address the Greek people, to ask for a referendum, from the Greek people to take a position on this change of decision of the leaders of the political parties. The second option we will have is any decision or debate in parliament to be postponed after the end of the four-year term. And the third and last will be the announcement of elections,” Kammenos said at a press conference at the 83rd International Fair in Thessaloniki and added that they have no mandate from the people to give away the term Macedonia any way.

The leader of the Independent Greeks explained that it was in the neighbors’ interest to “accept Greek positions” because Greece wants to help economically, “but history can not be forged and the name Macedonia used.”

“There is no Macedonian nationality, nor does a Macedonian language exist, you speak Slavic,” said Kammenos.

Kotzias: The agreement will be ratified and Greece will return its name back

Athens, 7 September, 2018 - 14:18 (META) 

The Agreement from Prespa will be brought by our government at the Parliament and will pass with the absolute majority, with over 150 MPs, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos KOtyias in an interview for the Greek radio “Real FM.”

He claimed that Greece has gained much more than our country which will have to make major changes, but even then it will all depend on Greece.

-Even though our neighboring country will hold a referendum, it is going to be making constitutional changes and it is going to change its name, it will still be dependent on Greece because without the Greek ratification of the Agreement from Prespa, it will not become a member of NATO – said Kotzias.

Talking about the position towards Macedonia he also spoke about Greece’s gain i.e. the country will no longer call itself Macedonia but North Macedonia and with it, the current government has brought the name back.

-Many of my colleagues said that they didn’t address the country as Macedonia in the last 15 years. Thanks to our government, this country will be addressed as North Macedonia even by the Americans. Unfortunately, three-thirds of the world have recognized our neighboring country as Macedonia and luckily with this agreement, it will become North Macedonia. Therefore we claim that we have brought the name back, even though we have not given it, as some have said – said the Head of the Greek diplomacy.

Addressing the disapproval from the coalition partner in the government, Panos Kammenos regarding the ratification of the Agreement, he said that it will not be an obstacle as it is well known how the decisions in the government are made.

Tsipras will mark the end of the Greek economic Odyssey with TV address

Athens, 21 August, 2018 - 11:35 (META) 

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras will have a TV address to the nation today on the occassion of the end of the country’s financial crisis. Tsipras symbolically chose Ithaca island in the Ionian Sea, the home of Odysseus, which he struggles to find in his well known aruduous 10-year journey after the Trojan War.

With it Tsipras will mark the end of the third financial rescue programe for Greece, after 8 years of austerity measures.

In the meantime, reshuffle of the cabinet is expected by tomorrow, in order to calm down the criticism.

EU Economic and Financial Affairs commissioner Piere Moscovici insisted that reforms must be adhered and that the government should ensure in the post bail out era that commitments will be upheld.

European Commissioner President Jean Claude Junker said he always fought for Greece to remain at the heart of Europe.

All the Greek newspapers today annonce the TV address and point out that Tsipras shelved plans for grand fiestas and celebrations due to the 96 deaths in the Attica wildfire.

Heated diplomatic agenda for the Greek government at the end of summer

Athens, 20 August, 2018 - 11:03 (META) 

The unexpected development with the release of the two Greek  soldiers after five months’ imprisonment in Turkey, should not make the Greek government complacent, because the end of summer and the begining ofautumn bring a number of high profile foreign policy issues.

The most notorious is the referendum in the Republic of Macedonia on the Prespa Agreement.  Its outcome will lead to political developments in Greece, as Panos Kammenos, the leader of the Independent Greeks political party, which is a coalition partner with SYRIZA, has said that he will not support the Prespes Agreement when it will be ratified in the Greek parliament .

The detention of the two Greek soldiers touched the core of the Greek-Turkish relations, but Cyprus issue and the energy programme of Exxon Mobil in September will raise again the question whether there is a real will for a substantial improvement of the bilateral relations of Greece and Turkey. Athens also expects how the president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan will react when Exxon Mobil begins on September its drilling on Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.

In this context, on September 11th United Nations envoy Jane Hall Lut will come to Athens and she will have a meeting with the Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on the Cyprus issue, at the commencement of the new phase of negotiations.