The agreement signed between Athens and Skopje last June to resolve the almost 30-year-old dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was not “imposed” on the neighboring country, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a speech at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday.
He said Greece is actively promoting stability and economic growth in the Balkans through its dialog with Albania, but manly through the "historic" Prespes Agreement which "can be used as a model for resolving differences.”
“It's an agreement that did not arise by imposing the interests of the strongest, but it was mutually acceptable, defending the dignity of both sides,” he said, noting it will open the path for EU and NATO membership for FYROM.
Tsipras reiterated the need to respect international law in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean, in an apparent dig at Turkey's violations of Greek airspace and its warnings to Cyprus over the latter's plans to drill for oil and gas.
“We clarify our full support for a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus issue, based on UN decisions,” he added.
Recounting the triple crises that afflicted Greece – economic, migration, destabilization in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean – the prime minister said the country not only managed to stand on its feet, but became “part of the solution” in Europe and the wider region, instead of "being part of the problem."
Commenting on the large migratory waves that affected Greece, he said the country handled it “with respect to international law and human rights.”
“At the same time, however, we supported the implementation of the difficult but necessary EU-Turkey Statement,” he added, referring to the controversial deal put in place in March 2016 to stop the large influx of refugees and migrants.