Mitsotakis blasts Tsipras after meeting on FYROM name talks


New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis launched a stinging attack on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after the pair held a brief meeting on Saturday morning to discuss the negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the name issue.

"Mr Tsipras did not inform Parliament or the Greek people," said Mitsotakis after the meeting, which lasted about 45 minutes. "Instead of pursuing a strong national front, he is focused on petty political games. This means that a window of opportunity is closing."

The opposition leader added that he feels Greeks do not trust the prime minister to "negotiate anything" and repeated a previous comment that he is not prepared to divide the Greeks in order to unite the citizens of FYROM.

"Mr Tsipras chose to walk this road alone so he should not look for accomplices and alibis," said the conservative leader.

The prime minister's office responded to Mitsotakis's comments by accusing him of "irresponsibility and opportunism."

"The country, however, needs a leadership that is determined to walk the difficult path in order to protect national interest and not the easy route, which leads to dead-ends," the statement added.

Tsipras was also due to hold separate talks on Saturday with the leaders of PASOK, To Potami, the Greek Communist Party and the Union of Centrists. On Friday, he informed President Prokopis Pavlopoulos about the state of negotiations with FYROM.

United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz is due to visit Athens on Tuesday and Skopje the following day, and will hold discussions with both countries’ foreign ministers, Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Dimitrov.

Kotzias and Dimitrov are due to hold a bilateral meeting early in February.

The irredentist references in FYROM’s constitution will be part of the discussions on the name issue but government sources said that this will not be a matter that can cause the talks to stall and it is possible that any agreement between the two countries will override their respective constitutions.