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Greece, North Macedonia building ‘new narrative,’ PM Tsipras says

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Greece and North Macedonia are in the process of building a “new narrative” based on “solid foundations” stemming from the name deal signed between the two neighbors last year, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday during a landmark visit to the Balkan country's capital, Skopje.

In comments to the media after a meeting with his North Macedonia counterpart, Zoran Zaev, Tsipras said respect for the terms of the accord, signed in the northern Greek lake district of Prespes and settling decades of acrimony between the two neighbors, will be key to this effort.

Further initiatives to bolster ties that were agreed between the two leaders, Tsipras said, include inaugurating diplomatic missions in the two capitals, the creation in Greece of a “National Organization for Balkan Development,” a joint committee to address the contentious issue of trademarks and branding, a new open border crossing, more intensive talks on defense cooperation within the framework of NATO, and regional cooperation with other Balkan countries including Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania.

Economic cooperation, however, was at the focus of the meeting, said Tsipras, who is accompanied on his visit by a delegation of 10 cabinet members and some 140 representatives of the Greek business community.

Opening the press conference, Zaev hailed Tsipras's visit as a “historic milestone” and confirmed that the two leaders signed a slew of agreements for cooperation in a wide range of areas.

He also hailed the Greek prime minister as a “close personal friend.”

“We showed Europe and the world that with bold decisions anything is possible,” Zaev said in reference to the name deal.