Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday essentially offered his support to North Macedonia Premier Zoran Zaev and his country’s effort to unstick its stalled bid for European Union accession talks but emphasized that Skopje would have to honor the terms of the Prespes name deal.
In talks between the two men in Thessaloniki, Mitsotakis reportedly told Zaev “You can count on me.” Their discussion focused on the decision by the European Council not to approve the launch of EU accession talks with North Macedonia following a veto by France.
The talks took place on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki Summit 2019, a business event organized by the Federation of Industries of Greece.
According to government spokesman Stelios Petsas, Mitsotakis reiterated Greece’s support for the enlargement of the EU to include Western Balkan countries, saying this would boost peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
In statements to reporters, Zaev said Mitsotakis assured him that he would speak with French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders.
Zaev also revealed that he invited Mitsotakis to visit Skopje, while, according to sources, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is expected to travel to the capital of North Macedonia in the coming week. Asked about the Prespes deal, Zaev said it is being implemented step by step, stressing that “we have obligations and so do you,” referring to Greece.
With regard to the issue of the brand names of products from North Macedonia and those from the region of Macedonia in northern Greece, he said both sides will reach an agreement “in an amicable way.”
Mitsotakis told the summit that both countries should do their best to curb the negative aspects of the deal. As for Albania, Mitsotakis said that to start EU accession talks, it must conduct a full census and protect the properties and rights of its Greek minority.