Greece says FYROM isn't ready for an agreement

Kotzias Dimitrov

Kotzias Dimitrov

by Aggelos Skordas

Following weeks of optimism towards final settlement of the naming dispute between Greece and FYROM expressed by both countries’ officials, the possibility for an imminent agreement on the latter’s name appears “remote”, according to a Greek official. Athens claims that Skopje has taken steps back in the last few hours, despite previous statements according to which the negotiations would close after a single phone call between the two countries Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev.

“The FYROM side does not appear ready to fulfill what was agreed upon by the two Foreign Ministers in Brussels”, an unnamed government source said according to state run AMNA news agency. “Therefore, the possibility of an agreement within the next few days appears to have become more remote. The communication between the two countries’ Prime Ministers by telephone also appears more remote”, he explained.

Although, as early as on Wednesday, a press release issued by FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov’s office foreshadowed the stalling: “The President’s stance is one of principle and at the same time coincides with the position of all Macedonia’s (sic) thus far. His stance is that he does not accept a solution to the name issue for overall use or erga omnes”, the press release reads.

Moreover, according to local media, Ivanov who originates from the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party, described the results and the consensus achieved as a personal agreement” between Tsipras and Zaev, adding that no possible solution has been approved by Skopje. As he is quoted as saying by local media, the two Premier’s talks have not followed the required provisions that would lead to a conclusion.

According to information from both countries, the name Republic of Northern Macedonia (Republica Severna Makedonija) appeared to be the likeliest choice of Athens and Skopje, while on Monday the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said that he and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Dimitrov had done everything in their power to achieve a solution.

FYROM’s emerging refusal of an erga omnes use of the country’s new name and of a constitutional revision, though, led the Greek government spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos to clarify that no deal has been reached yet. As he reiterated on Friday, domestic use of the new name in FYROM and a constitutional amendment changing the name of the country are necessary conditions for a solution. In an interview with E TV, Tzanakopoulos pointed out that when an agreement arises “we will inform the political forces and the Greek people so that a broad and thorough discussion can ensue”, expressing confidence that the government can secure the necessary parliamentary majority to pass a prospective naming settlement with FYROM.

On Wednesday FYROM’s Premier leaked that Athens and Skopje were very close to an agreement and that the issued would have been sealed by Friday. Forty-eight hours later Zaev’s government appears to retreat partly due to the fear of the demonstrations organised by the country’s nationalistic opposition for the weekend.

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.