Greece’s conservative opposition has slammed an agreement signed Sunday between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) which, if ratified, will rename the Balkan state the Republic of North Macedonia.
In a statement, New Democracy said the agreement was detrimental to the national interest for recognizing a Macedonian language and ethnicity.
“Today is a sad day for Greece, but it is also a day of shame” for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his right-wing coalition partner Panos Kammenos, the party said, accusing them of “binding Greece to a deal which creates faits accomplis that will be extremely difficult to reverse in the future.
The conservative party also criticized the government for a police crackdown on protesters demonstrating against the deal on Sunday.
While foreign officials hailed the deal in the idyllic setting of Prespes, a lake region that borders Greece, FYROM and Albania, protesters expressed their objection to it in the nearby village of Pisoderi. A crowd raised a banner saying “Macedonia is Greek” and tried to break a police cordon. They were pushed back by officers who fired tear gas.
Reports later Sunday said 14 were injured, including seven police officers.
“While Tsipras and [Foreign Minister Nikos] Kotzias celebrated in Prespes about a deal that is damaging to [Greece’s] national interests, the police were given orders to show unprecedented brutality, even sending to hospital citizens that were demonstrating their patriotic sensibilities,” ND said.
“The government... does not seem to realize that it is opposed by the vast majority of Greeks,” it said.
PASOK chief and head of the center-left grouping Movement for Change (KINAL) Fofi Gennimata also issued a statement criticizing the deal.
According to a poll published Saturday, almost seven in 10 Greeks are opposed to the name North Macedonia.
The poll, conducted by Marc for the Proto Thema newspaper, found that 68.3 percent of respondents are opposed to the agreement. More specifically, 73.2 percent of respondents said they disagree with the use of the term “Macedonia” in the new name and 68.3 percent said they are opposed to the deal.
Moreover, 49 percent of respondents who claimed they had voted for ruling SYRIZA said they were also opposed to the accord.