On the government’s initiative and with unprecedented encouragement by foreign powers, the Macedonia issue has resurfaced in Greece’s political life. The name deal reached between Athens and Skopje has sparked fierce reactions and served as a catalyst for changes in domestic politics. The exact impact of these changes is still unknown but, contrary to the hopes harbored by the leftist-led government when it entered negotiations to solve the long-standing name dispute, these are not expected to affect the New Democracy opposition. Rather, there is evidence that the Prespes accord will take a hefty toll on the incumbents in the next elections.
The obvious conclusion from developments so far is that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his government have two things in mind – on one hand, the benefits that they will reap from every decision and action and, on the other, the damage that they will inflict on their political opponents. Lies, delusions, somersaults, admissions of fault, omissions, misinterpretations, neologisms, slander, rhetoric, polarization, division, tolerance, appointments, taxes, handouts, promises, laws, conquests, distortions – everything becomes a political instrument in the hands of the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks (ANEL) coalition. There are no rules, no limits, no ethics in their bid to pursue or hold on to power.
In that sense, a very important question is how and why Tsipras went on to conclude the agreement despite realizing that, first, he had failed to divide New Democracy and, second, that the Macedonia issue has had a big yet negative impact on Greek society.
These are not the only questions: Why did Tsipras not try to score points by insisting that the people of “North Macedonia” be called “Northern Macedonians”? Why did he accept the deal before FYROM had fulfilled all the conditions, considering that pressure was on Skopje’s side?
The answer to all these questions may be that the leftist premier has invested so much in attracting praise from “the foreign factor,” also hoping to get concessions for his service to the western powers. He probably thinks that the above, combined with the time and handouts in the run-up to the next election, will minimize the political and personal cost. Time will show whether Tsipras is right on this, but the agreement has nonetheless created several faits accomplis.