Greece’s Foreign Ministry welcomed on Tuesday the recent good will gestures by the government of the Former Yugoslavic Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to rename its airport and the motorway linking it to Greece.
“Today’s decision is a positive step for the reversal of what has happened over the last decade and burdened relations between the two countries. It is an important development in the direction of tackling irredentism and we hope that it will mean the opening a new chapter in the relations of our two countries and peoples,” the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.
FYROM’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said his cabinet approved a proposal to rename Skopje’s international airport from “Alexander the Great” to “Skopje” and to rename the country’s motorway, which connects to Greece, from “Alexander the Great national highway” to “Friendship national highway.”
However Greece’s main opposition party New Democracy demanded substantial gestures from the neighbouring country such as changes to its constitution as a precondition for any negotiations.
“In an interview yesterday, Mr. Nikos Kotzias admitted that the constitutional changes in our neighbouring country can be deferred to a vague, distant future. This fully confirms the objections we have expressed from the beginning about the government’s handling of the Skopje issue,” said New Democracy’s shadow foreign minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos.
“We reiterate it clearly: the necessary changes to the Skopjan constitution and the rejection of any irredentist policy based on the alleged existence of a Macedonian ethnicity, is a precondition to push the negotiation forward. Even more so [it is a precondition], to reach any agreement on the name issue,” he added.