After Foreign Ministry officials denounced the Church of Greece for “aligning itself with the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party” in the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought on Thursday to de-escalate the tension with a letter of appeasement to Archbishop Ieronymos.
On Wednesday, the Holy Synod unanimously said it would oppose any solution that included the use of the term “Macedonia” by FYROM, citing political, national and ecclesiastical reasons, as it could bolster the claims by FYROM’s self-declared “Church of Macedonia.”
In his letter, Tsipras reassured Ieronymos that these concerns, especially the ecclesiastical ones, will be taken into consideration by the government during the negotiations with Skopje and called on religious authorities to contribute, “in a spirit of unity,” to the government’s efforts to resolve the decades-old name dispute and other national issues.
Meanwhile, Panos Kammenos, the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL), reiterated his party’s opposition on Thursday to the use of the term “Macedonia” by FYROM but hinted he could discuss a Slavic version of the name and expressed his full confidence in Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.
“I have complete confidence in Kotzias to negotiate a name that will not include the Greek term ‘Macedonia,’” Kammenos told an ANEL party meeting, adding, however, that “[FYROM] can have any name they want in Slavic.”
Recent reports also said that he would also consider the Slavic name Makedonija. However, he repeated his opposition to the use of the qualifiers of “New” or “Upper” with the term “Macedonia.”
Meanwhile, conservative opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday called on the leftist-led government to “stop dividing Greeks” over the issue.
In comments made during a tour in northern Greece, Mitsotakis accused the government of engaging in “secret diplomacy” and requested that the opposition be briefed on developments regarding the ongoing talks.
“I also ask the government to stop dividing Greeks. And to stop identifying people who are particularly sensitive on the name issue with the far right,” the New Democracy leader said.