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FYROM Premier Says His Country’s Identity "Macedonian"

Αssociated Press

FILE - FYROM's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, FILE)

With a name deal to Greece to rename his country still undone, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Prime Minister Zoran Zaev kept up provocations, saying that no matter what anyone says, his country’s identity and language is "Macedonian".

The deal made by Greek anti-nationalist Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras would see FYROM become North Macedonia, and lift Greek vetoes barring entrance to NATO and opening European Union accession talks.

But to the dismay and fury of critics and rivals in Greece, it also recognizes the official language, culture and identity as "Macedonian", and gives away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia, over the opposition of two-thirds of Greeks.

Tsipras’ junior coalition partner, the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos are also opposed and expected to vote against it. Kammenos has said he’ll take the party out of the coalition if it comes to a vote i Parliament but has changed his position repeatedly.

Speaking in an interview with a local television station, Zaev said nobody is questioning his country’s identity or official language, which he said is "Macedonian" although FYROM’s Parliament isn’t due for a final vote until Jan. 9 and his previous comments claiming a "Macedonian" identity, even for people living in the real Greek province of Macedonia, stoked fury among opponents in Greece.