Munich.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his counterpart of the Republic of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev have been awarded the Ewald von Kleist Prize at the Munich Security Conference. Both leaders were honored on Saturday evening in recognition of their efforts to resolve the differences between their two countries through the signature of the Prespes Agreement, the importance of the Agreement for security and stability in the Balkans and Europe and their contribution to the international peace.
The ceremony took place in the Munich Residenz in the presence of the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU).
The MSC inaugurated the “Ewald von Kleist” Award in 2009 and among its recipients in the past were Henry Kissinger, Javier Solana, Helmut Schmidt and Valery Giscard D’Estaing, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and former German President Joachim Gauck, as well as John McCain.
Both Tsipras and Zaev addressed the 55th Munich Security Conference earlier on Saturday.
The safety matters are getting more and more complicated, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras underlined in his address. The strengthening of the national rhetoric and nationalism as response to the international and regional challenges it’s like we are pushing the wheel of history backwards, Tsipras added.
This position is dangerous, disastrous and a bomb to the foundations of the European cohesion, noted Tsipras adding that we must address the challenges according to our values. The humanity flourishes through partnership and cooperation. The progress comes with the collective effort, the dialogue and the cooperation, said Tsipras.
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.”
He said we put an end to a long standing 30-year argument with North Macedonia through a very difficult, in its implementation, agreement, the Prespes Agreement which constitutes a reference point on where can lead the nationalism and the isolation, said Tsipras.
The Prespes Agreement, he said, is the best for both countries but also for the wider region of the Balkans and for Europe. “I am very proud and convinced that me and Zoran Zaev are on the right side of history” stated the Greek prime minister.
“The history is not written by those who delay or those who are afraid and tremble before the changes. On the contrary, the history is written by those who dare to bring changes and to stand, regardless of the reactions, on the right side of history”, he concluded.
“If we intend to be together, we must stop thinking that everything in the world started from our nations,” Zoran Zaev said. “And not only in the Balkans.”
Zaev said integration could boost the living standards of some of Europe’s poorest people and to stop the flow of their most talented people to the west. Yet the nationalist sentiment that sparked Europe’s bloodiest post-World War II killings is still causing divisions.
“I hope that politicians will be more in favor of the states and common European society than in their or party polls,” Zaev said. “That’s the future of the world.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the two leaders for their courage in reaching a compromise.
“I had given up,” she said at a gathering of senior defense and foreign policy officials in Munich.
“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.
Tsipras and Zaev had a brief meeting at the entrance of the hotel where is held the Munich Security Conference.
Tsipras, leaving the hotel after the conclusion of his meeting with a group of US Congressmen, saw Zaev and they exchanged a warm welcome. Zaev introduced Tsipras to the group that accompanied him at that moment comprised by the advisor for safetyand representative of the Albanian DUI party that participates in Zaev’s government while present was Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov.
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.
MEETING WITH BIDEN
AND U.S. SENATORS
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and former US Vice-President Joe Biden met for over an hour on the sidelines of the Security Conference in Munich.
The prospects of the Greek-US cooperation were discussed at Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ meeting with a group of US Senators on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, diplomatic sources said on Saturday.
Matters of Greek-US cooperation, energy policy issues and the regional safety in the Balkans and the SE Mediterranean and the crisis in Venezuela were discussed.
Tsipras referred to Greece’s initiatives to address the economic and refugee crisis and to other regional issues.
On their part, the U.S. Senators underlined Greece’s role as a pillar of stability and peace in the region and to the upgrading of the Greek-US relations. Moreover, according to the same sources, they praised Greek government’s efforts for economic growth and also for the resolution of North Macedonia issue.
The Greek prime minister asked for the US support in the Republic of Cyprus’ activities in its EEZ and to put pressure to Turkey for the de-escalation of the tension in the Aegean, for Eastmed pipeline and the attraction and increase of US investments in Greece.
He underlined that Greece supports the European diplomatic initiative for Venezuela adding that Greece’s stance will be judged from the result of the diplomatic initiative.