Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will seek to convey the message that the economy and growth of northern Greece and the country’s clout in the region will receive a significant boost from the bilateral deals that are expected to be signed during his visit to Skopje on Tuesday.
However, his arrival in North Macedonia will come on the heels of a call on Friday by New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis for specific commitments by the two countries with regard to the protection of the “Macedonia” brand name of Greek companies. Otherwise, he said, Greece should veto North Macedonia’s European Union accession.
Tsipras’s visit will also take place in the wake of his arguably failed bid in Thessaloniki on Thursday to highlight the benefits of the Prespes accord – which an almost overwhelming majority in northern Greece is opposed to – as he met with vehement objections by local businessmen and was heckled by demonstrators.
Moreover, reliable sources confirmed on Friday that the issue of the “Macedonia” brand of Greek companies prompted a large number of northern Greek businessmen not to attend a meeting with Tsipras as they contend that the Prespes accord does not secure their interests.
The reactions shot down the ruling SYRIZA party’s contention that the deal is only opposed by a “few extremists.”
According to sources, apart from business, the agreements that are expected to be signed will focus on issues of security and the monitoring of North Macedonia’s airspace by the Hellenic Air Force.
Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis, who will travel to Skopje with Tsipras, has already publicly remarked on the positive impact that the transformation of the armed forces of North Macedonia will have under the aegis of Athens.
This, he said, will ensure that North Macedonia does not fall under the sphere of influence of other countries in the region.
The other expected agreements are in the field of energy links between the two countries, infrastructure and a new cross-border road.
Tsipras, who will also be accompanied on his visit by some 70 businessmen, plans to attend the Greece-North Macedonia Supreme Council of Cooperation later in the day before he participates in a business forum along with his counterpart Zoran Zaev. He will return to Athens later the same day.