SKOPJE, N. Macedonia- North Macedonia’s government isn’t happy that Greece has laughed, with a snazzy logo, a Macedonia the GReat campaign to promote products in the real Macedonia in Greece, as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis still hasn’t moved as promised to get Greece’s neighbor to stop calling its goods as Macedonian too.
The dilemma got more confused after Mitsotakis attended an event kicking off the Macedonia is Great program as it happened before he met North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev to give Greece’s support for that country’s hopes of beginning European Union accession talks being blocked by opposition from France and other countries.
The problem began after the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA in 2018 signed a deal to change the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to North Macedonia – giving away the name of the real Macedonia – to end a name dispute.
That began in 1991 when the government of Mitsotakis’ father, the now late former Premier Constantinos Mitsotakis, allowed the country emerging from the collapse of Yugoslavia to take the name Macedonia in the acronym FYROM.
That was supposed to be temporary but after successive FYROM governments began claiming Greek lands, culture, history, culture and even Alexander the Great before rolling that back as prt f the deal, Greece had vetoed the country’s hopes of getting into NATO and the EU.
Former premier and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras lifted those obstacles, paving the way fort the new North Macedonia to get into NATO but now blocked from the EU for now and with Mitsotakis saying he wants companies in that country to stop calling their products as Macedonian.
North Macedonia news reports said the government there is chiding Greece and for it said was undermining the spirit of the so-called Prespes Agreement, named for the lake bordering both countries where it was signed.
Macedonia the GReat – the GR emphasizing it’s Greece – was launched at an event Nov. 14 with Mitsotakis and the President of the Greek Exporters Association (SEVE) Giorgos Kostantopoulos. The new logo represents a range of products from the Greek prefecture including wine and other produce but it does nothing to keep North Macedonia companies from doing the same.
Mitsotakis said at the launch that “producers in Macedonia will embrace” the logo so that northern Greek professionals “could establish a unified collective identity, making products of Macedonia stand out from now on..”
He said said that the logo would be submitted to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for registration so that it may be “added to Macedonian products and services across the world” – but they will still be in competition with North Macedonia products called Macedonian.
North Macedonia’s government believes that it should have been informed in advance of Greece’s intention to use the slogan in the spirit of “mutual trust,” said the Australian site and paper Neos Kosmos of the flap.
“We appreciate that these issues must be approached through dialogue and with the counsel of specialists in issues relating to the use of trade names, trade marks and their protection. This unilateral approach could have undermined and had a negative effect on all that has been achieved between the two countries so far,” North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry said.
Mitsotakis later said his government, while supporting North Macedonia’s hopes of joining the EU would insist on the agreement being followed to the letter but there was no report on whether he would keep his promise to first insure that country stops labeling products as Macedonian.