Discussions continue in FYROM on proposed constitutional reforms


Deliberations continued on Thursday in the parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on the proposals submitted by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev last Friday to revise the country’s constitution in order to ratify the name deal signed with Greece last June. 

Meanwhile, the US, which has given its full backing to the deal, nominated Kate Marie Byrnes, the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Athens, as ambassador to Skopje.

For its part, Greece is closely monitoring the discussions in FYROM, especially those regarding the articles in the constitution referring to a “Macedonian” people and identity, which Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos expressed concern over last week.

Pavlopoulos has insisted that FYROM must make a written commitment that the name deal signed in June does not recognize a “Macedonian” nation but, rather, a citizenship. 

Greece’s former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, who was instrumental in the deal, also raised concerns over wording in FYROM’s constitution that could lead to talk of a “Macedonian” minority in Greece. 

Sources in FYROM said the draft amendments that have been submitted are not final, leaving scope for further changes. 

Greek government sources said that Athens expects these revisions to remain within the spirit pervading the name deal signed in the Prespes Lake district. 

Moreover, well-informed sources told Kathimerini that the government wants any changes that are made to adhere to paragraph 3 of article 4 of the name deal, which states that the constitution must not allow for any interpretations that could lead to the interference of one country in the affairs of the other. 

FYROM is expected to complete the deal’s ratification process in January before it goes to Greek Parliament for approval.

For his part, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed certainty on Thursday that the deal will be passed by Greek lawmakers.

“The deal will be approved for one reason: Everyone down to the last citizen understands that despite the difficulties, despite the problems, this agreement is to the benefit of the country – particularly northern Greece and Thessaloniki,” Tsipras said. 

He evaded questions about right-wing coalition partner Panos Kammenos, who has repeatedly voiced his objection to the deal.