The referendum in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is not a legal prerequisite for the name deal signed with Greece in June to go through, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Monday night, as the government in Skopje juggled with the results of a majority “yes” vote, but with a turnout of less than 50 percent.
The agreement is not considered null and void after Sunday's referendum mustered participation of just under 37 percent, Kotzias said, tacitly responding to comments from government partner Panos Kammenos and others who oppose the deal.
The foreign minister expressed confidence that the agreement – informally named after the Prespes lake district in northern Greece where it was signed – will be ratified by Parliament in Skopje within the next few months and then put to lawmakers in Greece, “definitely by March.”
“We are a democratic government with a diversity of opinions. Mr Kammenos has a different opinion on the agreement,” Kotzias said, referring to the leader of the small nationalist Independent Greeks party and also defense minister. “Foreign policy is conducted by the prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs. No one else is responsible.”
Kotzias also expressed confidence that the agreement will pass in Greece's parliament by a comfortable majority “and more.”
In reference to possible developments in FYROM, Kotzias said that he believes Prime Minister Zoran Zaev would win in the event that the country heads to general elections as a result of the referendum.