The 27-year-old dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) should have been resolved decades ago, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, told MIA news agency in an interview published on Thursday.
“I believe that the settlement of bilateral problems between two neighboring countries — Macedonia and Greece — was long overdue. It should’ve been done at least twenty years ago. There were many occasions to do that, but they were all missed. I don’t want to attribute blame to anyone, but the opportunities were missed,” he was quoted as saying by MIA.
“There was a lack of political will on both sides, I mean the governments, during those years,” he added, referring to the decades the problem has remained unresolved.
Asked about the results of the September referendum in FYROM on whether to accept the Prespes accord signed last June, Chizhov said he agrees with the assessment of the country’s State Electoral Commission, which declared it invalid.
He said the problem was the low turnout, as well as the confusion over what the referendum was about.
The Russian diplomat said he supports a settlement of the dispute, but added that a solution should be based on the will of the two peoples, a proper constitutional basis and, a broad consensus in the two countries.
“I’m afraid none of the three conditions were met. You’ve seen the reactions in large segments of society, both in your own country and in neighboring Greece,” he added.