Tsipras Says Government Wants to Set National Policy on FYROM Dispute

January 27, 2018

ATHENS – Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday the government’s aim is to set a national policy on the ongoing negotiations between Athens and Skopje for the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), during a meeting with President Prokopios Pavlopoulos at the Presidential Mansion.

In his brief comments before the cameras, Tsipras said having different views on how to resolve the FYROM dispute is legitimate, but rejected petty party politics.

“We will handle the issue in a climate of meaningful dialogue and sobriety. Besides, the country’s foreign policy has a continuation. And it is this continuation we respect and extend today and tomorrow,” he said on the name issue.

Tsipras said that an effort for approach was made with the neighbouring country along with some steps to indicate that issues of irredentism have to be resolved.

“I think it is positive and as a sign of goodwill that the name of both the airport and the highway linking the two countries will be renamed, as it is a crucial issue. We all have great sensitivity. Nobody can appropriate another people’s history. In the following period we will insist on the intensification of our efforts,” he said.

“These are issues that have stalled and are burdening our foreign policy,” he added, noting that the effort has to be made to avoid facing this problem again in the future.

On the issue of Albania, the premier said important steps have been made and a great distance has been covered.

“History has shown that our great strength is and remains the fact that we defended our land and our national interests whenever there was solid unity,” Pavlopoulos said.

He mentioned relations with Albania, the President said the official exhumation of the remains of thousands of Greek soldiers that fell in the mountains of southern Albania at the start of WWII and their reburial in the two cemeteries agreed upon was “a pending issue that could not be tolerated anymore”. He also noted the importance of granting Albanian citizenship to the Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and all Albania, Anastasios.

Pavlopoulos also commented on the ongoing negotiations on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), saying that eliminating irredentism is not just an issue for Greece, but also for the EU, adding it runs contrary to the EU. FYROM’s path towards the EU passes through the elimination of irredentist elements which were also present in the past “and was recognized by everyone, even the United States, when that part of Yugoslavia was formed”.

“We have the goodwill but we defend our national interests, international law and the European acquis,” he added.


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