THESSALONIKI – Speaking in Greece’s second-largest city in the heart of Macedonia, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said a deal he name to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) preserved the identity of the Greek region whose name he gave away.
Speaking to party supporters while violent protests raged outside, he said that the agreement – opposed by two-thirds of Greeks – was good for Macedonia even though the residents of what would be North Macedonia if the Greek Parliament approves would be called Macedonians and have a Macedonian language, culture and identity.
“We came to provide a solution to the benefit of Greece, to our Macedonia; to the benefit of all the Balkans, for peace, cooperation and co-development in our region … the Prespa agreement ends the falsification of our history. It conclusively ends, once and for all, the insulting appropriation of ancient Hellenic (Greek) Macedonia; it conclusively ends, once and for all, FYROM’s absurdity and irredentism, in a crystal-clear manner, which will from now on be printed in the neighboring country’s constitution.”
That was in reference to the deal being signed at Lake Prespes which borders both countries and as he continued to defend the agreement that’s also opposed by his own coalition partner, the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.
Tsipras said, “The Left is not selling out Macedonia; it’s saving the cultural and historical legacy of Greek Macedonia; that’s what the Left is doing with the Prespa agreement…” the business newspaper Naftermporiki reported.
Speaking at a small indoor arena to a few thousand supporters, many bused in from other parts of the country, Tsipras said that Thessaloniki is not the “city of the far-right and hate … Macedonia and Thessaloniki will not turn back,” from the agreement.
He said the agreement would end some 140 other countries calling FYROM as Macedonia, which he said was allowed when New Democracy 27 years ago allowed the use of the name in what was supposed to be a temporary arrangement before successive governments in Greece’s neighboring country began irredentist claims.
He timed his talk in an apparent bid to take headlines away from New Democracy, which, under leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, was having its conference in Athens and with the Conservatives continuing to hold a sizeable lead in surveys with elections coming next year.