Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the name deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) suggesting it is part of a campaign to increase Western influence in the Balkan region.
In an interview with Serbia’s Vecernje Novosti newspaper Tuesday ahead of his scheduled visit to the country later this week, Putin said that the so-called Prespes accord had been enforced from outside against popular will in a bid to draw the country into the NATO military alliance.
In the same interview, the Russian president said the United States were destabilizing the Balkan peninsula by “asserting their dominant role” in the region.
Also on Tuesday, Moscow dismissed Greece’s accusation that it was meddling in its internal affairs but insisted it will express its opinion about the Prespes agreement to the United Nations Security Council.
“We are in no way meddling in Greece’s internal affairs, but Russia will be expressing its point of view on the issues within the competence of the UN Security Council,” said Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.
Grushko said the Russian Foreign Ministry statement was a fundamental assessment of “how negotiations [between Athens and Skopje] had proceeded.”
He said the West’s interference was unprecedented and was aimed at achieving quite clear geopolitical goals.
Practically speaking, once the name deal is officially ratified, Moscow can veto the withdrawal of the dispute between Athens and Skopje from the agenda of the Security Council.
However, analysts said that the veto will not have an impact other than boosting Moscow’s image.
On Monday, the Greek Foreign Ministry accused Moscow of interfering in Greece’s internal affairs after the Russian Foreign Ministry said the Prespes deal was a Western plot to draw the Balkan country into NATO.