Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with his Bosnian counterpart Denis Zvizdic in Mostar on Monday to receive an award for his contribution to maintaining peace in the Balkans thanks to the recent name deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) but he was forced to return to Athens before the ceremony.
Tsipras left before the event, which was organized by the Center for Peace and Multiethnic Cooperation, after being briefed about three major forest fires in Greece.
He and FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had been due to sign a “peace charter” in recognition of their governments’ efforts to secure a landmark accord to change FYROM’s name.
Peace ceremonies aside, the deal continues to fuel discord in both Greece and FYROM.
Zaev on Monday held yet another round of talks with political leaders aimed at determining the question that will be put to FYROM citizens at a referendum on the accord scheduled for this fall.
For a third time, Zaev failed to reach a consensus with the other politicians in FYROM on how the referendum question should be phrased.
Zaev hit out at the leader of the main conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, Hristijan Mickoski, accusing him of opposing the country’s accession to NATO and the European Union.
Earlier this month, FYROM was extended an invitation to join NATO, though the launch of accession talks will depend on the formal approval of the name deal with Greece.
FYROM’s opposition conservatives have condemned the accord as “national capitulation” and walked out of talks last week, bringing the negotiations to the brink of collapse.