A day after officials from Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) signed a deal to change the Balkan state’s name to North Macedonia – which has fuelled protests in both Athens and Skopje – President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday sought to strike an conciliatory but firm tone.
“We want relations of friendship and friendly relations, and we favor its European and NATO prospects,” he said referring to FYROM.
“However, this requires a solution to the name issue in a way that is compatible with history, international law and the acquis communautaire, and in a way that eliminates irredentism,” Pavlopoulos said during a meeting with his visiting Indian counterpart, Ram Nath Kovind.
The next step in the Balkan country’s bid to join the EU and NATO, he added, is the “appropriate revision of FYROM’s constitution,” he added.
Pavlopoulos came under fire last week by former conservative premier Antonis Samaras, and others, for not opposing the deal reached between the leftist-led government and Skopje’s administration.
As political parties in Athens continued to trade barbs over the name deal, and whether Greece made too many concessions to its neighbor, the accord was submitted to FYROM’s parliament on Monday.
The deal, which was signed by Greece and FYROM’s foreign ministers at a lakeside ceremony in Prespes in northern Greece on Sunday, is to be put to debate in Skopje’s parliament from tomorrow with a vote expected by Friday night.
The deal is expected to be ratified but must then also pass a referendum in FYROM.
The agreement must then also gain approval in Greek Parliament, where the outlook is less clear.
The junior coalition partner, Independent Greeks, has said it will oppose the deal and the centrist political forces which had suggested they would support it now appear to be divided.