The leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) Panos Kammenos hinted on Thursday that he may have shifted slightly from his hardline stance on the decades-old name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Speaking to reporters on Thursday following a meeting on the issue chaired by leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the head of right-wing nationalist party reiterated that the use of the “Greek term Macedonia” is a non-starter and expressed hope that “any solution given is one that will safeguard national interests and will be accepted by all in the political world.”
However, analysts said this doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of his acceptance of a composite name that would include a Slavic spelling of the name “Macedonia.”
Moreover, Kammenos said there were two “landmark decisions” in the negotiations – the one in 1992 by the Council of Political Party Leaders that established the Greek position that the word Macedonia should not be used in a solution and the one taken in 2008 at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008, where Athens vetoed FYROM’s accession to the alliance until the dispute is resolved.
According to Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Thursday, the government has repeatedly claimed it is “negotiating for a composite name, something that Greece had presented as its position in Bucharest.”
By describing both the 1992 and the Bucharest decisions as “landmarks,” Kammenos hinted that he could base his stance on the latter rather, than strictly adhering to the former which categorically ruled any use of Macedonia.
Another hint of a slight shift in Kammenos’s stance was his expression of confidence in way Kotzias is dealing with the negotiations.
Kammenos’s repeated statements that he would never support a solution that included the term Macedonia created friction within the ruling coalition prompting opposition criticism that the government does not have a uniform stance on the issue.
Meanwhile, reports from Thessaloniki suggest that demonstrations and rallies are being planned to protest the possible use of a composite name that includes the term Macedonia.
With Athens and Skopje expressing a willingness to find a solution that has eluded negotiators for decades, a new push is expected this year, with Greece hoping for a deal before the arrival of summer.
Delegates from both sides are scheduled to meet with United Nations envoy Matthew Nimetz on January 19 in New York.