The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) state-run MIA news agency on Friday changed comments attributed to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev after an intervention by Athens.
In an interview with MIA in Washington, Zaev reportedly said: “The northern part of Greece is Greece, the western part of Bulgaria is Bulgaria. This is our Macedonia and there will not be another one in the world,” MIA initially reported him as saying. However, MIA later completely changed the quote.
The revised quote read: “We all know that today a part of the geopolitical region of Macedonia is in Greece, a part is in Bulgaria, and the northern part is in our country. And no one will ever try to deny our Macedonia. The adjective ‘North’ makes a distinction and we reaffirm that there are regions in Bulgaria and in Greece which are called Macedonia.”
In Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his junior coalition partner Panos Kammenos appeared to have buried the hatchet, at least for now, after recent tension between the two men over the name deal.
Tsipras and Kammenos met on Friday in a bid to iron out their differences and, according to government sources, they agreed that the issue should not be allowed to disrupt political unity and stability as the country emerges from eight years of bailout agreements. The same sources said the two agreed to readdress the issue in March.
Ahead of the referendum on the name deal with Greece, meanwhile, FYROM's opposition VMRO party hinted on Friday that it could back the changes in the country’s constitution.
The party’s leader Hristijan Mickoski said he is still against a revision of the constitution as stipulated in the so-called Prespes agreement, but added that if the majority of citizens approve it then “we will respect this decision” – as long as more than 50 percent participate in the referendum and the result is a “yes” vote. Mickoski also said he is sticking to the party decision not to tell its supporters what to vote for in the referendum.