Greece on Tuesday urged the prime minister of North Macedonia to fully implement the Prespes agreement on the country’s name in all contexts, including international sporting events, while Kathimerini also understands that Athens is deferring the planned parliamentary ratification in July of three memoranda cooperation memorandums signed between the two countries to September and maybe later.
Athens was responding to a tweet by Zoran Zaev in which the North Macedonia premier referred to his country’s national football team, which is participating in the European Championship 2020, as “Macedonia,” omitting the qualifier “North.”
“We demand the full implementation of the Prespes agreement and its spirit and we call on Mr Zaev to refrain from divisive rhetoric, especially in such a sensitive issue as football,” government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni said.
“In any case, the good faith implementation of the agreement is one of the criteria for the country’s accession to the European Union,” she noted.
The cooperation memorandum has been postponed reportedly so that Zaev can understand that he has some obligations which he cannot ignore.
In another indication of the government’s hardening stance toward North Macedonia’s transgressions with regard to the name deal was Peloni’s decision to remind reporters what New Democracy’s disagreements were with the Prespes agreement, which was signed by the previous SYRIZA government in 2018.
More specifically, she said the ruling party’s main objections are on the issues of language and identity, which as of late have frequently come to the fore.
The government had made clear its intention that it wants to implement the agreement despite the initial opposition to it by New Democracy. But on the other hand it is also making it clear that it will not turn a blind eye to what it sees as mixed signals coming from Skopje regarding its intentions to fully implement the agreement.
Attending Monday’s game between North Macedonia and the Netherlands in Amsterdam, Zaev tweeted: “Today, from the stadium in Amsterdam, I offer my strong support to the Macedonian national football team.”