Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Greek PM faces backlash over Macedonia name recognition deal

Greek PM faces backlash over Macedonia name recognition deal

According to the BBC, its language will still be known as Macedonian, and its people will also be known as Macedonians - but citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia.

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said a deal had been reached that would give Macedonia a different name which would be used domestically and internationally.

After the final agreement has been reached, a joint statement for the Greek and Macedonian public is expected to be published.

The compromises to resolve the name issue have faced dissent in both countries, threatening to split Greece's governing coalition and provoke a rift between Macedonia's prime minister and president.

European Union officials Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn congratulated Greece and Macedonia on the "historic agreement" in a joint statement. "And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans", he added.

But EU membership remains a decades-long prospect, while North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, as highlighted by Zaev's comment on "we're becoming a member", offers a more immediate security guarantee.

The first step is for the agreement to be signed by the two countries' Foreign Ministers, then it needs to be ratified by the FYROM Parliament.

His comment on the "wider Western Balkans" came amid Western concern that Russian Federation is prepared to use dirty tricks to hold back progress.

On Tuesday, the two countries' respective Prime Ministers, Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev finalised the deal in a telephone conversation which came after months of negotiations.

This is the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, which is in the capital, Skopje.

In Greece, the main opposition New Democracy party demands that Tsipras get a mandate from parliament before he signs the agreement, complicating plans for him and Zaev to do that as early as this weekend. "I now call on both countries to finalise the agreement reached by the two leaders".

"We are in a situation that is unprecedented in Greece's constitutional history".

"I am convinced that the referendum on the new name will be successful and that most citizens will say yes", said the Macedonian PM.

"We will oppose this deal of capitulation with all democratic and legal means", VMRO-DPMNE head Hristijan Mickoski told a news conference, branding the agreement "an absolute defeat for Macedonian diplomacy".

Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev may also face backlash from President Gjorge Ivanov, who refused to listen to his briefing on the deal.

Greece regards "Macedonia" as a term referring only to one of its northern regions and the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, and insists on the use of another name for its northern neighbor.

Besides claiming it as part of its heritage, Greece also had a province bordering the new country with the same name and feared Skopje could harbour territorial ambitions.

Honest congratulations to PM @tsipras_eu and PM @Zoran_Zaev.

"I think Prime Minister Zaev's most hard task will be to actually explain the deal, to build political consensus for the implementation and of course the upcoming referendum", said political analyst Petar Arsovski.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted his support for the agreement: "Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible".

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