DELPHI – With North Macedonia’s new government on shaky grounds with a bare majority in Parliament and trying to save off snap elections, even if a nationalist party comes to power there would be no change in the terms of the name deal agreed with Greece, said Defense Minister Slavjanka Petrovska.
Speaking to Kathimerini at the Delphi Economic Forum, she tried to reassure that a new hardline administration wouldn’t try to reverse any part of the deal done with Greece’s former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.
That saw Greece give away the name of the province of Macedonia to newly-named North Macedonia – which had been the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – and saw it admitted to NATO, while some aspects of the agreement remain undone.
“This agreement was marked as one of the most significant achievements in the Balkans in the past decades, and I am convinced that, politics aside, all political parties, when in position to represent the government and the country, will oblige to what has been agreed and signed,” she said of the 2018 so-called Prespes Agreement, named for where it was signed on Lake Prespes, bordering the countries.
Referring to North Macedonia’s accession to NATO, she said it’s a further bulwark against any outside interests in the Balkans, with Russia still having designs and continuing its invasion of Ukraine.
“Looking from today’s perspective, NATO membership for the countries in the Balkans is, quite possibly, the best way to guarantee that the instabilities in Eastern Europe will not spill over in our region,” she said.
She added that North Macedonia’s membership in NATO “is profitable for the Alliance as a whole, for the individual allies, but mostly, for the peace, security and stability of the country and the region.”
Petrovska also noted all NATO allies are in agreement the Alliance must boost its presence on the eastern borders as a further disincentive against Russia making any moves although Baltic countries – former Soviet states who are in NATO – worry they would be abandoned if Russia strikes there.
“It is necessary and called for by the new security situation on the European continent,” she added, noting that the new friendship with Greece after the signing of the Prespes agreement has opened more possibilities for cooperation, especially in the area of defense.
“We have passed the responsibility for the safety of our skies to an ally, but we have done that in clear conscience, confident in the capacity of the Hellenic Armed Forces and the willingness to protect a neighboring allied country,” she stressed.