The government’s decision to open up the water and land borders in and around the Great Prespa Lake and the village of Lemos, establishing border crossings between the Greek side of the lakes and that of FYROM, puts an end to problems that are a legacy of the past and which have hindered tourist development of the Prespa Lakes region and its local communities for decades.
The signing of the agreement on the FYROM name issue by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his FYROM counterpart Zoran Zaev is expected to create a new dynamic in the region. Tsipras and Zaev inaugurated the new regime by crossing the lake in a boat from the waterfront in Greece to the shores on the FYROM side, traversing a water border that only the lake’s fish and bird life had previously been free to cross.
“The area is connected with our history, tradition, culture and heritage,” Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) and added: “The two lakes of Prespa are a source of life and of natural and cultural wealth of immeasurable value, which attract visitors who combine their holidays with unique authentic experiences of the countryside.”
“This is a blessed place within the Balkans, with great responsibility for the peoples coexisting there,” the governor of the Greek region of Western Macedonia, Theodoros Karipidis, said to ANA and stressed that “the lake waters must be united rather than divided.”
According to the regional governor, the recent initiatives aim at a future “with vision and plan”.
Karipidis noted that there are more than 300,000 tourists from the UK and the Netherlands in FYROM at present, who might want to visit the Greek side of the Prespa Lakes and are currently unable to do so.