“Greece has decided to send a message to the East and the West, toward all its friends and others, that regardless of who is violating the principles national sovereignty and respect toward us, measures will be taken,” Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) on Sunday.
“The time when turning a blind eye was considered diplomacy has passed,” he added when asked whether he is concerned over the recent strain in Greek-Russian relations after Athens expelled two Russian diplomats and barred entry to another two Russian citizens over alleged efforts to undermine the name deal between Athens and Skopje.
Asked about the possible cancellation of the Russian foreign minister’s planned visit to Athens, Kotzias expressed hope that any problems between the two countries will be resolved in an amicable manner.
“Sergei Lavrov, whom I consider to be one of the best diplomats on the international scene, and I have friendly relations. He asked me to invite him to Greece to prepare for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s trip to Moscow, on their invitation. If he wants to come, he will do so and again he will be welcome. If he feels that he must align with those that we expelled or with those that were not allowed to enter, it is his right,” he said.
On the issue of the name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) signed in northern Greece’s Prespes lake district last month, Kotzias said that conditions were mature for a deal and accused detractors of playing in Ankara’s hands.
“Do we want a FYROM that is under Turkey’s influence or a FYROM that has a friendly relationship with us? That is what we have to answer; not whether we were too hasty in reaching the agreement,” Kotzias told the ANA-MPA.
Asked whether this was the best deal Greece could have hoped to reach with Skopje, Kotzias said “we could have had a better agreement if the other party did not participate in the negotiations. We would not have called it North Macedonia, but North Alaska.”