Sitting side-by-side at the Munich Security Conference, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and North Macedonia Premier Zoran Zaev were lauded for their deal that renamed The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ending a 28-year feud.
They have also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the agreement that two-thirds of Greeks and a vehement minority in what is now North Macedonia opposed, a deal that saw Greece give away the name of the ancient province of Macedonia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she thought it would never happen and led the parade of praise for the agreement that saw Greece lift a veto on North Macedonia getting into NATO and opening European Union accession talks.
“I would like to express my warm congratulations to the two protagonists, Zaev of North Macedonia and Tsipras of Greece for their courage,” Merkel said, adding that the deal could be a model for solving other long-standing conflicts.
“If you show the necessary courage, you can find solutions,” Merkel said, Kathimerini reported, with Tsipras telling the conference that “history is written by those who dare to make changes and stand on the right side of history. I am sure Zoran and I are standing on the right side of history.”
The two premiers were to receive the Ewald Von Kleist Award for international peace and conflict management.
Greece’s Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas, one of Tsipras’ closest aides, will head to the North Macedonia capital of Skopje on Feb. 18 for a two-day visit, but not new Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos..
The purpose of the visit is to begin collaborations with North Macedonia and countries of the Western Balkans as required by the deal.