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”.