The prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Zoran Zaev, said in an interview published on Wednesday in the Financial Times that he is optimistic a solution to the name dispute with Greece will be reached soon, but reiterated that his country cannot accept the demand by Athens to change its constitution.
“The new requirement from Greece is that we need to change our constitution. But a constitution is a home rulebook. It doesn’t have implications outside the country. In any case, changing the constitution wouldn’t be a final guarantee, because a new government in the future could just change the constitution back again,” he said.
Athens want Skopje to change its constitution to rid it of any references that could lead to irredentist claims to the province of Macedonia in northern Greece. Zaev said, however, that he and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras can reach a compromise to the decades-old dispute before a NATO summit scheduled to take place in Brussels on July 11-12.
“I’m optimistic. It’s very difficult, we’re aware of that. But it would be smart for both sides to find a solution as early as possible,” he said.
Skopje wants a solution so that it can pave the way for accession talks with the European Union and begin the process for NATO membership. The two sides are reportedly considering five names for FYROM.