The government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Tuesday said it remains “strongly committed” to implementing the name accord it signed with Greece in June, while pledging to avoid any interference in the country's internal affairs.
“We are strongly committed to full implementation of Prespa agreement, and all of our actions and statements are made in good faith to support the agreement,” it said in a statement.
“As a country that aspires to join the EU, we understand that countries take care of their own citizens and countries in the Balkans do not interfere in neighboring countries on any given issue,” it said.
Referring to article 4(3) of name agreement signed between the two countries this summer, the FYROM government pledged to avoid any interference in Greece’s internal affairs, “including for the protection of rights of any persons that are not our citizens.”
“In that sense, it is understood that language policies in both countries are not determined by the Prespa agreement,” it said.
“We understand and respect that the question of what languages are taught in Greece is an issue of internal affairs and domestic policy.”
The statement said, FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is fully committed to a policy approach that brings European values in the Balkan region and is committed to improving good neighborly relations.
“We regret if his comments were understood in any other way.”
According to reports Monday, Zaev said that “Macedonians” in Greece will have the right to be taught the “Macedonian” language.
According to FYROM news sites mkd.mk and vecer.mk, Zaev’s remarks were made to a lawmaker of the nationalist VMRO party who asked about the fate of so-called “Aegean Macedonians” under the deal.
In response to questions posed by Kathimerini Monday – whether Zaev did indeed refer to “Aegean Macedonians” and their right to be taught “Macedonian,” and if his comments imply the existence of a “Macedonian” minority in Greece – FYROM’s government spokesman Mile Bosnjakovski said that under the Prespes deal his country’s language belongs to the group of southern Slavic languages and that it will become an official language of the European Union when FYROM joins the bloc.
He also said there are no articles in the deal specifying language use in FYROM and Greece. He didn’t say whether Zaev referred to “Aegean Macedonians.”