Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said his government will submit draft legislation soon to end irredentist claims on Greek lands as part of a deal to change his country’s name to North Macedonia and open the door to NATO entry and European Union accession talks.
The changes were narrowly backed by the Parliament and once the Constitution is changed the agreement that gives away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia will go to the Greek Parliament.
The deal was pushed by Greece’s ruling Radical Left SYRIZA with anti-nationalist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras saying it had to be done to end a 27-year name feud and because 140 countries already refer to FYROM as Macedonia without a geographical qualifier.
It also allows, however, residents of what would be North Macedonia if Greek lawmakers approve ratification, to be called Macedonians and have a Macedonian language, culture and identity.
That was too much for Tsipras’ junior coalition partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos to swallow and he said his seven Members of Parliament will vote against it and he’ll yank the party from the coalition if the agreement reaches the Greek Parliament, now set for March, 2019.
But he also said he wouldn’t bring down the government nor stand in the way of the deal, continuing his contradictory statements that have changed frequently, as he both opposes and supports the deal, allowing him to have it both ways.
Zaev said the amendments will include the requests made by the eight lawmakers of the conservative opposition who voted in favor of the changes last week.