German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that she had given up hope that Athens and Skopje could ever find a solution to the decades-old name dispute, before congratulating the two prime ministers for reaching a settlement.
“I would like to express my warm congratulations to the two protagonists, [Zoran] Zaev of North Macedonia and [Alexis] Tsipras of Greece for their courage,” Merkel told the Munich Security Conference, adding that the Prespes agreement can serve as an “excellent example” for other similar lingering conflicts. “If you show the necessary courage, you can find solutions,” Merkel said.
Addressing the conference on Saturday, Tsipras said that “history is written by those who dare to make changes and stand on the right side of history. I am sure Zoran and I are standing on the right side of history.”
The two premiers were to receive the Ewald Von Kleist Award for international peace and conflict management later on Saturday in recognition of their efforts to end the dispute.
In a sign of closer ties developing between Greece and North Macedonia, meanwhile, Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas heads to Skopje Monday for a two-day visit.
The purpose of the visit is to launch a series of collaborations with North Macedonia and countries of the Western Balkans as stipulated in the Prespes agreement.
In a separate development, authorities in Skopje said on Friday that they had prevented a planned “terrorist act” by supporters of Islamic State. North Macedonia signed an agreement with NATO states to become the military alliance’s 30th member earlier this month.
In Munich on Saturday, Merkel described the discussions over the country’s NATO membership as an indication that the alliance still remains “attractive.”