ATHENS – At a meeting with producers from Northern Greece, President of New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, made five commitments to ensure the protection of Macedonian products from the harmful impacts brought on by the Prespes Agreement.
- Start a communication campaign to protect the brand “Macedonia”, which will be funded not only by regional but also by national resources.
- Facilitating businesses to register trademarks to protect their products not only at a national but also at a pan-European level (filing of European trademarks at the EU Intellectual Property Office).
- Entitling more Macedonian products as Protected Designation of Origin (PGI) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in the EU
- Issuing a Ministerial Decision which will automatically award the GR mark to the products of all Macedonian companies that have affixed the “Macedonian” derivative in their brand so that there is no doubt that these are Greek products.
- Veto on Skopje’s EU accession as long as Greece’s national interests are not safeguarded and the issues concerning Macedonian products issue are not resolved.
The representatives of the producers expressed to Mr. Mitsotakis the unpleasant surprise that they experienced by Mr. Tsipras’ inexcusable ignorance and lack of care related to the real side-effects that the Prespes Agreement has already had on Macedonian goods. More specifically, in the framework of the open event organized by the Association of Exporters of Northern Greece (SEVE), the President of New Democracy listened carefully to all the problems that Greek exporters are already experiencing from the attempt of the neighboring country to conjure up the name and history of Macedonia in order to promote its own products abroad.
Mr. Mitsotakis stressed that Greece retains the right of a veto vote for Skopje’s EU accession if problems such as this are not solved. “I will do everything in my power to secure Macedonian products and the protection that they must enjoy, as they enjoyed it for decades,” the President of New Democracy said, “We are not going to leave Macedonian companies to their own fate,” he added.
In this context, he said there must be a large-scale, well-organized communication strategy for the establishment and support of the Macedonian brand, which will be supported by national funds from the New Democracy government when it rises to power.
SEVE President, Mr. George Konstantopoulos, welcoming Mr. Mitsotakis, stressed that “we are called to prove that we are not elephants”. “Our grandparents would scarcely believe that a day would come where they would have to prove why their products were called Macedonian,” he noted.
For his part, Mr. Athanasios Saropoulos, President of the Geotechnical Chamber of Greece, told Mr. Mitsotakis that the Prespes agreement gives the Skopjans the right to name their products “plainly Macedonian”, something that has already been given to them with Mr. Tsipras’ signature and vote in Greek Parliament.
“There’s no scenario in which we will agree to rename our company,” said Mrs. Mary Hatzakou on behalf of the Macedonian Milk Industry, MEVGAL, while similar concerns were expressed by Mr. Haitoglou, who spoke on behalf of the Greek company producing the product under the name “Macedonian Halva”.
It is worth remembering that Mr. Tsipras spoke in a condescending and ironic way to Mr. Mitsotakis in Parliament when referring to the Macedonian products. On the wine-makers side, Mr. Mitsotakis received a complaint that at ProWein, the largest wine exhibition in the world, the neighboring company took part as “Macedonia”. In a continued expression of dismay, the complaint continued, “The fact that China aksed the Skopjans for permission to purchase Greek wine from Macedonia shows exactly what the Prespes Agreement is,” the leading figure in Greek winemaking said during the analytical discussion about wine.
“It is important for you to know Mr. Mitsotakis that Macedonian companies actively avoid putting the name Macedonia on their products they will get involved in legal cases,” noted a businessman who participated in the debate.
At the event the Central Macedonia Regional Governor, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, said that “in a tourist exhibition in Berlin, Skopje appeared as Macedonia” and only after a strong reaction from the Greek did, after two days, “Northern Macedonia” get added with small letters. Mr Tzitzikostas has revealed that there is a Greek company from Macedonia which has requested the registration of its trade name in Switzerland and its request was rejected because of the Prespes Agreement.