United-Nations brokered talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on the latter’s name are “crucial” and “sensitive,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsiras said on Friday.
Speaking to the press after meeting with Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris in the northern port city, Tsipras said that an agreement for a composite name with a geographical qualifier “in front of the name ‘Macedonia,’” would be a “great victory” for the Greek side.
“Steps have been made and we are moving ahead in defense of a national position,” Tsipras said when asked about the progress of talks, which have reached an apparent stalemate again after a brief signal of a breakthrough last week in talks between the Greek prime minister and his counterpart from Skopje, Zoran Zaev.
Responding to criticism of the government’s handling of the talks, Tsipras said that the aim is to “take something back, not give something away, something that for the past 70 years has been surrendered by others.”
“For over 70 years, our northern neighbors have had a state entity both within the framework of the former Yugoslav federation and as an autonomous state, named ‘Macedonia.’ They bear a name which, in the absence of any other kind of qualifier, references the ancient Greek world and the weighty cultural heritage of Greek Macedonia. This is what we are trying to get back. It isn’t easy,” Tsipras said.
“Securing a qualifier in front of the name ‘Macedonia’ would therefore be a great victory,” he added.