ATHENS – Backing off campaign tough talk that Greece could veto the newly-named North Macedonia’s European Union accession talks, new Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he won’t bar that country but wants still unspecified concessions.
Before he won July 7 snap elections, ousting the Radical Left SYRIZA of former Premier Alexis Tsipras who made the deal to give away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia to let the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) change its name, Mitsotakis said keeping a Greek veto on North Macedonia’s EU hopes was still on the table if he won.
He was especially upset that many goods manufactured in North Macedonia were being marketed as “Macedonian,” causing confusion with products from the real Macedonia, which abuts that country.
It wasn’t said if that was one of the concessions he wanted as a source close to him, who wasn’t identified, told Kathimerini that Mitsotakis won’t stand in the way of North Macedonia trying to join the EU if he gets what he wants, said Kathimerini.
(Greece) will not say no to anyone. However, it will set its conditions,” the source said without explaining what those conditions were apart from sticking strictly to the terms of the deal that Mitsotakis had bitterly criticized.
The European Commission recommended opening accession negotiations with both states. It remains to be seen whether the Council, the heads of state of the 28 countries in the bloc will follow up on the recommendation in October.
Ironically, it was Mitsotakis’ late father and former Premier Constantinos Mitsotakis, who in 1991 let the new country emerging from the collapse of Yugoslavia to use the name of Macedonia in the FYROM acronym that was supposed to be temporary.
After successive FYROM governments kept claiming Greek lands, history and culture, Greece used its veto as a member of the EU to keep its neighbor out, as well as putting up a roadblock to entering NATO, which was lifted by SYRIZA under the deal which saw Greece gain little back.