GR US

Mitsotakis Says He Could Derail North Macedonia’s EU Entry

Αssociated Press

Photo: ND Press Office/Dimitris Papamitsos.

Major opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leading big in surveys in an election year, said if he comes to power he would veto the newly-named North Macedonia’s hopes of joining the European Union if Greece’s interests would be harmed.

He made the remarks in Greece’s second largest city Thessaloniki, in the province of Macedonia, where Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras was booed a few days earlier by protesters upset he made a deal giving away the name of Macedonia to North Macedonia, which had been called The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Mitsotakis also told local producers he would act to protect products and brand-names bearing the name Macedonian, which some businesses in North Macedonia are using to designate their goods.

He’s hoping to ride a crest of fury in the region against the anti-nationalist Tsipras and SYRIZA for giving away the name of Macedonia although that was first done by his father, the late former Premier Constantinos Mitsotakis, who allowed the new country emerging from the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991 to call itself FYROM.

That was supposed to be a temporary agreement but when successive governments in FYROM began claiming Greek lands, including the real Macedonia and Thessaloniki, Greece used a veto to keep that country out of NATO and opening EU accession talks.

Those were lifted by Tsipras but while there’s no turning back on NATO, a Mitsotakis government could stop North Macedonia from getting into the EU, which requires unanimous approval of the current 28 countries.

In a meeting with social partners and local producers, Mitsotakis promised that, if elected, a ND government will veto North Macedonia's EU accession course if Greek national interests are not guaranteed, and if problems with Greek products bearing the name and derivatives of the name Macedonian aren't resolved, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.

He also promised to fund an international promotional campaign for the brand name Macedonia and to register more protected designation of origin products from Greece's Macedonia province that need safeguards.