The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) must stick to the letter – and the spirit) of a deal to rename itself that was reached with Greece, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said after a debate raged over whether it would be adhered to.
“If and when it (the deal) comes (to Parliament) for ratification, we will not in any way accept arbitrary – and even more so irredentist – interpretations of the Prespes Accord by FYROM,” he told Greek officials working in European institutions during a speech at the European Commission in Brussels.
That was referring to Lake Prespes, which borders both countries and where it was signed as the anti-nationalist Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to give away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia to end a 27-year dispute over FYROM’s name.
Pavlopoulos said Greece welcomes the prospect of FYROM’s accession to NATO and opening European Union accession talks if the feud is finally ended and as Tsipras said Greece would remove its vetoes to FYROM – as North Macedonia – being barred from both.
“It is only when this whole process is definitively completed, and once it is established that the constitutional review contains all the guarantees, that there may be an invitation for accession in NATO, as well as any start of talks for accession to the EU,” said Pavlopoulos, a veteran of the major opposition New Democracy which opposes the agreement.
Repeatedly changing his position, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) said he will quit his position and take his party out of a coalition with SYRIZA if a vote to rename (FYROM) comes to a vote in Parliament.
His tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic party’s seven votes give the government a scant three-vote majority but he said he can’t abide the deal that would let citizens of North Macedonia still have a Macedonian language, culture and identity.
Kammenos has alternately said while he opposes the deal that he wouldn’t bring down the government over the issue but has changed his mind and stance a number of times as his party has fallen about 1 percent in polls, far under the 3 percent threshold needed to get back into Parliament in the next elections next year.