Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev have been nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize by the leader of the EU parliament Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group Udo Bullmann, of the Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA) Ska Keller and of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Gabbi Zimmer, according to exclusive information the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) secured on Saturday.
In a joint statement signed by all three, it is stressed that “the Prespes Agreement between Greece and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia puts an end to a log-lasting dispute and brings stability to the western Balkan region.”
The three leaders noted that the Prespes Agreement, which has been ratified by the parliaments of both countries, is “a model for peacefully resolving international problems through dialogue and mutual compromise. Prime Ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras had the political courage to go ahead with the agreement despite the nationalist opposition.”
In their joint statement, Keller, Bullmann and Zimmer said that “for all these reasons, we support Nobel Prize winner’s Wided Bouchamaoui nomination of Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev for the 2019 Peace Nobel Prize.”
Presenting her nomination in Skopje on December 18, 2018, Bouchamaoui had referred to the Prespes Agreement as a model for problem resolution in the future, and that its ratification would “send a strong message that dialogue is possible”.
European Parliament Vice President Dimitris Papadimoulis and SYRIZA MEP Stelios Kouloglou played an important role in the initiative, while, according to ANA information, more top European politicians are expected to sign the joint statement for the Tsipras-Zaev Peace Nobel Prize nomination.
In a statement to ANA, leader of European parliament GUE/NGL group Gabbi Zimmer said: “I would like to congratulate Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev for their commitment and strong political volition to sign and complete the ratification of the Prespes Agreement, which resolves one of the longest standing and most sensitive issues in the area,” and added that the agreements marks a clear victory against nationalist and populist forces in both countries.
The Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, from its side, hailed the ratification of the Prespes Agreement by the Greek parliament on Friday, calling it a “historic agreement.”
“Now we will finally be able to say: Welcome to the Republic of North Macedonia,” said head of the Group Udo Bullmann in a written message, adding that the ratification proves that progressive political powers are able to resolve long-standing disagreements and to make difficult compromises that nationalists or conservatives failed to achieve for nearly three decades.
Bullmann also congratulated the prime ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev for “a historic agreement that will now be implemented” and added he was fully aware of the tensions preceding the vote on Friday.
“Yes, it was a difficult compromise,” the MEP said, and added that the two countries’ leaders proved that “the future of their countries and good neighbourhood relations are more important than short-term gains in opinion polls.” He also called on EU member-states to prove that those who achieve difficult compromises are rewarded and urged the EU to invite FYROM to “begin accession talks with the European Union in June 2019.”