by Aggelos Skordas
One day after FYROM officially announced the name change of the country’s capital airport from “Alexander the Great” airport to simply “Skopje International Airport” as well as the rename of E75 highway, also named after the ancient Greek King to “Friendship Boulevard”, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev appears to have taken a step back from what is considered as essential in Athens for finding a solution to the longstanding naming dispute between the two neighbouring countries. As he said addressing the press on Thursday, he sees no need for FYROM to change its constitution.
Asked whether the process of settling the dispute involved such a possibility, one that by the Greek side is seen as essential for an agreement, Zaev underlined: “In name talks, the demand to change the Constitution is a position of Greece, but we have our own. ‘Macedonia’ (sic) had changed its Constitution in 1993 by incorporating Amendment 2 into Article 49. We have made a major step to remove irredentism. Everything we do now is to prove that ‘Macedonia’ has no ambitions whatsoever, be it territorial or anything else, that ‘Macedonia’ has no irredentistic claims. ‘Macedonia’ wants to build friendship.”
Furthermore, he said any solution must guarantee the identity and dignity of both countries’ peoples adding that his country is ready to accept a name with a geographical qualifier: “It is based on my expectations from the internal debate ongoing in ‘Macedonia’, on the steps being made, on how far we can go, on the application of any possible solution etc. We stick to our position that the dignity and identity are vital issues.”
Moreover, Zaev announced that by next week, February 15 and 16, Greece’s Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, is scheduled to meet with his counterpart from FYROM, Nikola Dimitrov, on the sidelines of the European Union’s Informal meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers in Sofia, Bulgaria.