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After Presidential Flap, North Macedonia Says Will Abide Name Deal

SKOPJE – Backpedaling the new President’s remarks that her country is Macedonia – the name of an adjacent Greek province – North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry quickly reiterated it would meet the terms of a name deal with the geographical qualifier.

The ministry reaffirmed the country’s “unwavering commitment to fully respect constitutional provisions and all internationally assumed obligations,” including the Prespes Agreement signed with Greece.

That was a 2019 deal pushed by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA which gave away the name of Macedonia in a name deal with the then Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM.)

North Macedonia’s newly-elected President Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova set off a furor when during her inauguration she referred to the country as Macedonia and not its Constitutional name.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis quickly jumped in and denounced her remarks as provocative and illegal although not all the terms of the deal have been met yet, some North Macedonian agricultural products labeled as Macedonian.

With much at stake, North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry’s statement said that,  “Over the seven years, the two neighboring countries have fostered an exceptionally high level of political dialogue, leading to a notable increase in economic cooperation and the establishment of positive relations among their citizens.”

It added that, “These accomplishments have culminated in the country’s NATO membership, the launch of negotiations with the European Union, and the deepening of the Strategic Partnership through Strategic Dialogue with the United States,” the statement said.

“We urge all political stakeholders, particularly elected officials, to exercise caution. Upholding the Euro-Atlantic trajectory of the country remains a paramount strategic interest and serves as a guarantee for its long-term security and stability,” it concluded.

Mitsotakis said the remarks “to violate the official text of her oath and refer to her country by a different name constitutes an illegal and unacceptable initiative. It breaches the Prespes Agreement and the constitution of her state. It also undermines its future prospects.”

On social media and without meeting with reporters added that, “It’s well-known that as the opposition, New Democracy voted against the 2019 agreement. In fact, it warned at that time about the problems that its shortcomings would create. However, as a government, we respected the Greek signature on an international treaty that binds the country. Unfortunately, the recent development confirms our consistently cautious position,” he said.

“Greece rejects maneuvers like those with which Mrs Siljanovska has inaugurated her tenure. (Greece) urges her to return to her lawful duties and behaviors befitting her role. We emphatically declare that we will not accept similar mistakes. And we reiterate that any progress in bilateral relations, as well as any step of Skopje towards Europe, depends on the sincere adherence to the agreements, the proper use of the constitutional name of the neighboring country, and, of course, on the avoidance of provocations,” he said.

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