The FYROM government is determined to win the 30 September referendum on the Prespes agreement, the country’s foreign minister has told the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee in Brussels.
Nikolai Dimitrov told MEPs that there were many compromises had to be made before the final wording of Prespes agreement could be agreed on.
The deal was an “historic opportunity to close a difficult issue and open a door to the future” and that both the government and opposition in FYROM must take on this historic responsibility, he said.
“We and our friends, the Greeks, will be better if we do that,” Dimitrov said, noting that for some in his country he is considered a “hero” while for others he is a “traitor.”
He expressed the conviction that, if the agreement is implemented, the benefits for both countries will be considerable in the long run.
“In the future we will wonder why the agreement was not reached in the early 1990s. We lost a generation. We could have been friends since then.”
Speaking from the floor, SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis congratulated Dimitrov and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on the “important historic agreement” that he believed would be welcomed by all political groups of the European Parliament.
However, New Democracy MEP Manolis Kefaloyiannis stressed that “Macedonian identity and Macedonian language cannot be accepted by Greece” and asked the Dimitrov how his people are to be called after the Prespa agreement.
“I am a Macedonian,” replied Dimitrov, adding that “when the agreement comes into force, my country will be called Republic of North Macedonia and we will be Macedonians who speak the Macedonian language.”
He said however, that the term “Macedonian” has different meanings and that there are also Macedonians in Greece. He added that there is a distinction between the country and the region of Macedonia and that this distinction is erga omnes.
For his part, German MEP Elmar Brok, who, like New Democracy, sits with the European Peoples Party in the parliament, called on all political forces in FYROM to support the solution.