Did Siljanovska Davkova violate the Prespa Agreement? International Community reacts to her speech


International public and some of the domestic political actors issued public reactions after the new president Gordana Siljanovska Davkova failed to utter the constitutional name of the state during her inauguration on the  May 12. They consider this act as violation of the Prespa Agreement, which was concluded with United Nations mediation in 2018, ending the name dispute with Greece which lasted 28 years.

Greek ambassador  to North Macedonia, Sophia Philippidou, left the session of the Parliament used for presidential swearing in ceremony in protest after Siljanovska Davkova said “Macedonia” instead of “Republic of North Macedonia.”

And while the Greek media filled their front pages with articles about Siljanovska Davkova’s move, an important reaction came from the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who used the X social network (formerly Twitter) to send a message that North Macedonia should continue with its accession to the European Union (EU) by implementing reforms and adherence to concluded agreements, including the Prespa Agreement.

“For North Macedonia to continue its successful path on EU accession it is paramount that the country continues on the path of reforms and full respect for its binding agreements, including the Prespa Agreement,” Von der Leyen wrote.

This reaction came only a few hours after Von der Leyen tweeted congratulations for Siljanovska Davkova  as first  woman president of North Macedonia.

Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued official reaction in the form of official announcement.

“This act is a flagrant violation of the Prespa Agreement and the Constitution of our neighbouring country, which has been brought into line with North Macedonia’s international obligations. In spite of the objections it voiced as an opposition party during the ratification of the Prespa Agreement, the current Greek government respected as ratified the international agreement, which overrides any other provision of law,” the Greek MFA stated.

In this context, Greece categorically states that further progress in its bilateral relations with North Macedonia, as well as progress in the latter’s European course, depends upon the full implementation of the Prespa Agreement and principally the use of the country’s constitutional name.

Current outgoing Minister of Justice in the Government of North Macedonia Krenar Lloga claimed that Siljanovska Davkova made her oath is null and void.

“Disregarding the constitutional name of the state makes Siljanovska’s oath null and void,” Loga stated. He added that  in this  case either the swearing in procedure needs to be repeated or the position of president of the state should be taken over by Jovan Mitrevski (president of the parliament), as acting president, Lloga stated in his reaction published on Facebook, quoted by many media outlets.

Newly elected president Gordana Siljanovska Davkova during the swearing in ceremony when she said “Macedonia” instead of “Republic of North Macedonia” while taking oath of office. Photo: official Facebook page of Parliament of Republic of North Macedonia.

Will USA activate the Executive Order to sanction persons obstructing  Prespa Agreement? 

A month ago, the US State Department spokesperson stated for Voice of America in Macedonian that USA expects North Macedonia to uphold the spirit of the Prespa Agreement, and public discourse to remain fact-based.

“As the US remains committed to the Prespa Agreement, we expect North Macedonia to maintain this spirit, and for public discourse to remain fact-based and rooted in the dedication to North Macedonia’s future in the EU,” responded a US Department of State spokesperson when questioned about US concerns regarding potential undermining of the Prespa Agreement.

In 2021, US President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order on blocking property and suspending entry into the United States for persons violating or obstructing the Prespa Agreement and the Ohrid Framework Agreement, i.e. persons who obstruct peace and security in the countries of Western Balkans.

This document is named “Executive Order on Blocking Property And Suspending Entry Into The United States Of Certain Persons Contributing To The Destabilizing Situation In The Western Balkans.”

The US Department of State further clarified that the Executive Order applies not only to persons within Western Balkan countries who pose a threat to the Prespa Agreement but also to those in other countries. They noted that “the Executive Order 14033 allows sanctions against persons undermining the stability of the Western Balkans, wherever they may be, provided they meet the relevant targeting criteria.”

Sanctions included in the Executive Order stipulates sanctions in the following case:

“To be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, a violation of, or an act that has obstructed or threatened the implementation of, any regional security, peace, cooperation, or mutual recognition agreement or framework or accountability mechanism related to the Western Balkans, including the Prespa Agreement of 2018; the Ohrid Framework Agreement of 2001…”

Screen capture of “Executive Order on Blocking Property And Suspending Entry Into The United States Of Certain Persons Contributing To The Destabilizing Situation In The Western Balkans.”

The leader of then-opposition party VMRO-DPMNE and the most probable future mandatary of the new government Hristijan Mickoski, during a pre-election debate with the then-incumbent ruling party SDSM, Dimitar Kovačevski, that he will refer to the  country only as “Macedonia,” regardless of the 2018 Prespa Agreement which solved the name dispute with Greece. Regarding this issue, Siljanovska Davkova’s predecessor, former President Stevo Pendarovski, said that it  could mean that the  country would be excluded from the NATO alliance.

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