Pressure to ratify Prespes deal

Pressure to ratify Prespes deal

The contentious name deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is expected to be ratified in FYROM’s Parliament earlier than expected, possibly by January 10, meaning that the so-called Prespes agreement will come to Greece’s House early too, likely triggering political developments.

It appears that FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is speeding up the process of passing the deal in Skopje after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reportedly sent a letter to both Skopje and Athens, calling for the deal to be approved in both parliaments by February 15 so that the Balkan nation can join the alliance without further delay.

In comments on New Year’s Eve, Greek premier Alexis Tsipras would not be drawn on when the deal will come before Greek MPs, though government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos indicated that the decision will be made after January 18.

As Kathimerini revealed in its Sunday edition, NATO allies have agreed that a vote to ratify the Prespes deal in Greek Parliament will be separate from a vote on a protocol that will lift Greece’s objections to FYROM’s bid to join NATO.

In any case, the deal’s approval is expected to spark political developments, with speculation about the timing of possible snap elections peaking.

Tsipras insisted in comments to reporters over the holidays that elections will take place as scheduled in October. However, there is debate about possible snap polls in May when local authority and European elections are scheduled, or even March.

As regards the vote on the Prespes deal, Tsipras told reporters on New Year’s Eve that he had “not yet decided whether it will happen before March.”

Former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, who signed the Prespes deal in June before quitting the cabinet in October following a clash with Tsipras’s coalition partner, Panos Kammenos, who objects to the agreement, expressed his conviction that the deal will be ratified.

“There is no doubt,” he told FYROM’s MIA news agency. “That majority has been achieved.”

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