Political discord mounts in Greece over Prespes name deal

Political discord mounts in Greece over Prespes name deal

In the wake of Wednesday’s acrimonious confidence vote, tensions continued on Thursday over the Prespes accord, with the office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promising not to “fast-track” its ratification and to publicize the full text of the agreement for “every Greek” to read.

It said the government will print tens of thousands of copies of the accord, which will be distributed with Sunday newspapers.

Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy on Thursday reiterated its criticism that with the ratification of the deal, Greece will essentially recognize a “Macedonian” language and ethnicity. 

In the debate preceding Wednesday’s confidence vote, Mitsotakis said the deal made far too many concessions to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), prompting the PM’s office on Thursday to also challenge Mitsotakis to defend his position in a live televised debate.

The contentious agreement has sowed deep divisions in Greece, with many Greeks opposing the use of the term “Macedonia” in the name and constitution of FYROM, saying it denotes irredentist ambitions over the northern Greek province of the same name.

It also resulted in the breakup of the coalition government of leftist SYRIZA and the nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) party which prompted Tsipras to call Wednesday’s confidence vote.

Meanwhile, centrist To Potami, which has appeared to be on the fence over the issue, said on Thursday, after a meeting of its political council, that it fully supports a solution to the name dispute but fell short of explicitly backing the Prespes accord.

As the deal is expected to open the way for FYROM to join NATO and the European Union, neighboring Turkey said on Thursday it is looking forward to welcoming the Balkan country into the NATO family “without further delay.”

“We have strong ties with Macedonia that go back many centuries, ties that are strong regardless of political relations. I would like to stress that our political relations are excellent these days,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted by Greek media as saying in translated comments at a joint press conference in Ankara following a meeting with his FYROM counterpart, Nikola Dimitrov.

“Turkey recognizes Macedonia by its constitutional name,” Cavusoglu added, without further clarification.

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