Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras failed to prepare society and the political system for a painful national outcome. He is making a big mistake if he thinks that a positive vote in Parliament will just settle the case and yield fruit for him.
Whether it receives 151 votes in Greece’s 300-seat legislature or not, the Prespes accord deal is expected to be ratified by Parliament. As it turns out, a deal that was signed to heal the wound that is the name dispute between Athens and Skopje will inevitably open fresh wounds.
If Parliament fails to ratify it, everything that has happened until now will collapse because of Greece and the country will be the black sheep in the eyes of its allies – the Europeans and the Americans – who will see the Prespes failure as their own defeat before putting the blame on Athens. Greece will then be expected to foot the bill given that the name dispute is connected to broader geopolitical plans in the Balkans.
If, as expected, the deal is voted through, the impact will be huge on all levels. Society is already deeply divided. Ratifying the deal will deepen this division. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is responsible for failing to prepare society and the political system for such a painful national outcome, is making a big mistake (the opposition has committed errors of its own) if he thinks that a positive vote in Parliament will just settle the case and yield fruit for him (a Nobel Prize perhaps). An overwhelming section of society is, for better or worse, angry at the “sellout” of Macedonia. It remains to be seen what its reaction will be.
We are living in critical times and they mandate sober rhetoric on all sides. The ruling party is likely to pay a hefty price at the elections, whenever these take place, for its arrogant handling of the name issue.
Meanwhile New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, should he become prime minister, will not have it easy. Even after the agreement is endorsed in Parliament, it will also have to survive day-to-day life in Greece, in what will be North Macedonia and internationally. Things will not be easy and there is just no stipulation for monitoring the implementation of the deal. Russia is suggesting it may block the agreement at the United Nations, while the enforcement of the deal relies on consent and good will on both sides.
The question is: What will happen in Skopje and/or Athens should the next governments decide to freeze or indefinitely suspend the deal?