The telephone conversation between the prime ministers of Greece Alexis Tsipras and FYROM Zoran Zaev earlier on Monday is a decisive step towards a resolution of the name issue, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told Kontra TV on the same evening. The two premiers spoke midday on Monday and are scheduled to speak by phone again on Tuesday.
Negotiations do not proceed in a straight line, he said, but in a laborious process with ups and downs calling for patience and objectivity. “We are consistent in our support of a resolution,” the foreign minister said: “As difficult as a solution may be, (having one) is in our country’s interest. The time has come for Greek diplomacy and the Greek political scene to decide what the country’s greatest problem is, what it is that must be resolved, to the benefit of both sides.”
Kotzias noted that the Greek side wants “a solution that can stand the test of time, an agreement where both sides benefit.”
“We are reaching an agreement so we may look at the future defending history,” he told the TV station. He added that one of the issues clarified in the agreement is that of irredentism. He noted that in terms of the language descriptor, “it will be clarified that this language is not related at all to ancient Greek, does not claim any heritage or anything to do with ancient Macedonia, with Greek Macedonia, and that it is a language that belongs to the Slavic family of languages.”
The foreign minister added that in tomorrow’s scheduled conversation with Tsipras, Zaev will clarify which of the three names on the table he prefers: “Upper”, “North” or “New Macedonia”.
He also criticized main opposition New Democracy, asking it to clarify what names their governments worked on and which one it has settled on. ND doesn’t answer, he said, either because it’s embarrassed, or because they don’t know what they negotiated on, or because they have no sense of diplomacy.