Mogherini and Hahn confirm the arrival of the notification about the new name of Macedonia

Brussels, 15 February, 2019 - 16:25 (META) 

EU’s High Representative/Vice President for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn today confirmed the arrival of the notification by the Republic of North Macedonia about its new name and congratulated Skopje and Athens on the acchievement.

“Today, the European Union has formally been notified by the Republic of North Macedonia of its new name, following the entry into force of the Prespa agreement. We warmly welcome this historic step, which sets an example of reconciliation for the Western Balkans region and beyond. We congratulate the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of North Macedonia on this major achievement, turning a new page of our common EU future”, Mogherini and Hahn state.

Lavrov: Moscow isn’t against Macedonia’s new name but thinks the process is suspicious

Moscow, 16 January, 2019 - 13:43 (META) 

Russian Federation’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, stated that Moscow isn’t against Macedonia’s new name but the legitimacy of the whole process behind it is suspicious, reports Sputnik news agency.

-We aren’t against the name that arose in the end. We are asking to what degree this process was legitimate and to what extent it was conditioned by the intent to reach a consensus between Skopje and Athens or it was caused by USA’s intent to drag as quickly as possible all of the Balkan countries into NATO and to prevent any Russian influence in this area – said Lavrov.

According to Lavrov, these issues are instigated when the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia has adopted the changes in the Constitution and has passed the Law on languages that the president of the state has refused to sign.

-And when they accuse us of all the maladies that can occur in the Balkans, we are asking about our Western colleagues’ behaviour towards the incredible campaign led by the West regarding the referendum in Macedonia, when heads of EU governments, NATO’s General Secretary, the leadership of the European Commission and the whole of the European Union, who have personally lobbied in Skopje for a vote in favor of the EU membership by changing the name of Macedonia. There was enormous propaganda. It wasn’t about the name that would calm the relations between Macedonia and Greece but a vote for membership into the Euro-Atlantic structures through the name change. The cunning of such approach is obvious – said Lavrov.

Constitutional amendments were passed with 81 votes

Skopje, 11 January, 2019 - 19:38 (META) 

With 81 votes in favor and no votes against or withheld, this evening, MPs have cast their votes at Parliament i.e. the amendments from 33 to 35, which are Macedonia’s obligation according to the Prespa Agreement that was signed on the 17th of June last year.

Previously, the Alliance of the Albanians and BESA’s MPs withdrew their amendments.

According to Constitutional law which was also passed, these amendments will come into force as soon as the Prespa Agreement comes into force completely i.e. as soon as it is ratified in Greek parliament. According to article 1 of this law, the amendments will not come into force and will be annulled if Greece doesn’t ratify the agreement.

As soon as the 33rd amendment comes into force, the citizenship will be Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia ” which neither determines nor defines the ethnic background of the citizens.” The adjective shall be “Republic North Macedonia” or “North Macedonia.”

With the 35th amendment, the Republic guarantees that it will follow the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of neighboring countries: the Republic of Albania, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Greece, Republic of Kosovo and Republic of Serbia.

Greece will be requesting from the UN an additional anex in the Prespa Agreement regarding the Macedonian language

Athens, 6 December, 2018 - 15:04 (META) 

After the great storm in Greece that was caused by the statements issued at the Parliament by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev about the learning of the Macedonian language in Greece, about its use, about “Aegean Macedonia”, according to Greek media, Athens will fight the battle on international grounds.

Iefimerida from Athens writes that now that the government in Athens has become aware that the term “Macedonian language” remains in use at the northern neighbor, it tries to find a way how to respond and to minimize the damages, allegedly with an additional protocol that would have been passed at the UN.

As newspaper Estia explains, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will ask the UN for an additional protocol that would make the Prespa Agreement more precise meaning it will limit the space for stating the language and the nation.

According to the newspaper. the protocol will be an amendment tot he Prespa Agreement i.e. it will become its integral part.

According to the writings of other Greek newspapers, the Greek prime minister’s counselor would be engaged in the preparation of this amendment.

The Greek President Prokopis Pavopolous has already asked NATO’s General Secretary to stand up to the interpretation of the Prespa Agreement in Macedonia in order to prevent the recognition of a “Macedonian nation” and to stress that the language of the Greek’s northern neighbor is Slavic.

According to the media, Greece has informed the US that the Prespa Agreement will not be ratified by the Greek Parliament without such guarantees.

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”.

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.

Greece to expel two Russian diplomats over attempts to undermine the name dispute Treaty

Athens, 11 July, 2018 - 11:57 (META) 

The Greek government has decided to expel two Russian diplomats and ban the entry of two others, accusing them of attempting to interfere in Greece’s internal affairs, as well as undermining the Agreement regarding the name with Macedonia, reports the Greek daily “Kathimerini”.

Diplomats have been charged with attempts to obtain and distribute information, as well as the bribing of Greek officials. According to senior sources in Greek diplomatic circles, Athens urgently demanded that Viktor Yakovlev and another man from the embassy have to leave Greece.

There were allegedly a number of coordinated efforts to intensify Russian influence in Greece, among others, through the activities of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society. There was a clear signs that Russia had intentions to intervene regarding the sensitive issue of the Treaty between Greece and Macedonia and to negatively influence Greek policy in the Balkans.

Today Russian Foreign Ministry officials have stated they would respond in the appropriate manner regarding the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

According to the newspaper, they tried to influence some municipalities, some of the Metropolitans of the Greek Orthodox Church through bribery, as well as to gain greater influence on Mount Athos.

Shekerinska: We are getting an invitation for NATO the day after tomorrow, lets not miss this chance

Skopje, 9 July, 2018 - 15:36 (META) 

It is quite certain that on 11th of July, Macedonia will receive an invitation for accession talks for the NATO Summit, which is expected to be relatively short – three to six months – a procedure which is identical to the last countries which became NATO members, i.e. Montenegro, Albania and Croatia, and then the Accession Protocol has to be signed, after which its ratification will begin with all member states, and then, we will be “de facto” with NATO, because then we will participate in a big part of the NATO procedures. It remains only to complete the procedure in the country, with the referendum and the constitutional changes, in order to remove the last obstacles. For a long period of time the opposition has been stressing that the EU and NATO are the strategic commitments for Macedonia, and now, it is not serious by the opposition to block this road because of the small political points, said Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska and the national NATO co-ordinator Stevo Pendarovski at today’s briefing with journalists.

Emphasizing that it is a minor accession process and that a large part of the issues have already been completed, both Pendarovski and Shekerinska said the accession process would be identical as it is for Montenegro, Albania and Croatia, and that the main thing should take place in the country, i.e. to hold a referendum and to change the Constitution.

“Macedonia is at a new beginning. What we missed in 2008, we can now realize it with 10 years delay, and we know it costs us a lot. But now it is a new time when the state is no longer abducted, the period of stagnation has stopped, we have a chance to send a new message for stability, and also we could have economic benefits. In the meantime, we have noticed that there is no objection from Greece”, the Minister of Defense said.

When asked whether it was possible for France and the Netherlands to obstruct the process, as it was with the case regarding the invitation to negotiate with the EU, Shekerinska and Pendarovski explained there is no danger at all, referring to the meetings with NATO ministers and ambassadors.

According to Pendarovski, during his reports in Brussels, he received assurances from the ambassadors of both countries that there is no objection.

MANU: Proposals for the name are absurd, unsustainable, impossible and unfeasible

Skopje, 20 March, 2018 - 18:24 (META) 

The president of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU), Taki Fiti, in his opening of the academy’s annual assembly, appealed for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue and encouraged the authorities of Macedonia and Greece to take responsibility and bravely face the present realities.

He went on to say that a solution to a name for general use, is unfeasible and that identity must not be negotiated.

Defining the positions of MANU in his address, Fiti said that the dispute is in fact bilateral, not international, and that it is only negotiating the name, not issues of identity which open the door to the world of elementary human rights that are non negotiable. He also expressed concern against a name in the Macedonian language that will not be translated.

“The proposals for the name Republic of Macedonia, or the possibly of a name with a geographical title, to be pronounced as in the Macedonian language but to be written only in the Latin alphabet, that is, the name of the language, Macedonian, also written in Latin letter and pronounced as it is in our country, are absurd and unsustainable. Acceptance of an erga omnes solution, one name for all, meaning one name for both international and internal use, would mean change to the constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, change to the names of our institutions, cause a revision of all international agreements, bilateral and multilateral, where the constitutional name of the country is used, and so on. Accordingly, this solution is actually impossible and unfeasible”, said Fiti.