He pledged that in the near future he will seek with patriotic responsibility a mutually acceptable solution
Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
Although the discussions held during the individual meetings Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had on Saturday with opposition party leaders on the state of the negotiations with Skopje didn’t produce a major conversion, it was noted by political observers in Athens the common ground of the government’s positions with these of the Center Left leaders Stavros Theodorakis and Fofi Gennimata, on the name issue.
But, all opposition leaders criticized government for not having a common position, for secret diplomacy and mistakes in the negotiations.
The United Nations Special Representative for the naming dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Matthew Nimetz, will visit Athens on January 30 and Skopje on February 1st to discuss his proposals on how to deal with the dispute.
Following his meetings on Saturday with the political leaders in order to brief them on the developments on the FYROM name issue, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a statement pledged that in the near future he will seek with patriotic responsibility a mutually acceptable solution. Tsipras said that “it is the Greek government and my own, responsibility to close as many possible fronts and to build a new dynamic image”
Referring to his discussions with Albania, he said that he briefed the leaders that the way has paved for the full normalisation and upgrading of the bilateral relations. “We are ready for a strategic agreement with Albania that will resolve the crucial differences and will lead to the promotion of Albania’s negotiations for its accession to EU” said Tsipras adding that “A broad political consensus appears to be formed on this issue, which I welcome” said the Greek prime minister.
On the extremely crucial and difficult issue that refers to our differences with FYROM, the prime minister said that he briefed the political leaders in detail and explained them that “an opportunity window has opened as FYROM’s new political leadership shows willingness to negotiate for a mutually acceptable solution to a problem that undermined our relations in the last 25 years”.
He said that “FYROM’s political leadership has withdrawn, at some point, the irredentist rhetoric of the previous years” and brought as example FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s move to rename Skopje’s international airport and Thessaloniki-Skopje motorway from Alexander the Great to road of Peace.
He, however, clarified that “the symbolic gestures do not mean that the irredentist problem has been resolved as our neighbours’ political will should take the form of clear and specific engagements in the context of the deliberations conducted at bilateral level as well as in the framework of UN mediation”.
We have made progress in the last period but a long way remains to be covered to reach a mutually acceptable solution of a compound name erga omnes, said Tsipras and explained “everybody must understand that a non solution will be against Greece’s interest and against the stability in the wider region”.
He also recommended “realism, prudence, modesty and spirit of understanding if we want to serve the national interest”.
Referring to his meetings with the political leaders, he said that with most of them he had a sincere and responsible discussion that could lead to political convergence and broader consensus. “Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the leader of the main opposition (New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis) said Tsipras adding that “I believe that his stance is an indication of weakness to state clearly his political position”.
Concluding, he underlined “On my part I pledge that in the coming future I will seek with patriotic responsibility a mutually acceptable solution”
“Mr. Tsipras did not inform the parliament and the Greek people” said New Democracy (ND) leader after the end of his meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday morning at the Maximos mansion.
“ND defended the national issues with responsibility and determination. The Greeks do not trust Tsipras to negotiate anything” stated Mitsotakis adding that “We will not divide the Greeks to unite the people of FYROM”.
The main opposition leader accused Tsipras that he went to the negotiation without safeguarding the support of his partner in the government (refers to junior government coalition party Independent Greeks), he divided the Greeks and instead of seeking a strong national front he gets involved in petty politics. So, the opportunity window closes, said Mitsotakis.
Tsipras chose to walk this way alone so he should not seek for an alibi now.
According to initial information Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and PASOK leader and head of Democratic Coalition parliamentary group Fofi Gennimata discussed the developments in the FYROM name issue as well as what Tsipras discussed with his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama in Davos.
Gennimata reiterated her request for Political Leaders’ Council meeting because Tsipras proceeded to deliberation without having confirmed the national line.
She said that SYRIZA-Independent Greeks differences make the negotiations difficult and underlined that the solution should not only refer to the name but also legally binding guarantees on irredentism.
Fofi Gennimata in her statements after her meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday said that she underlined to Tsipras “the need for a comprehensive solution on the Skopje issue with compound name of geographic designation erga omnes and legally binding guarantees that will exclude irredentism and forging of history.
She explained that she had asked for convention of the Political leaders council because “Tsipras proceeded without having confirmed the national line as he ought and without having the consensus not even inside his own government”.
We had a thorough briefing, said Communist Party (KKE) leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas after his meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday at the Maximos mansion to discuss the developments on the FYROM name issue.
There is still huge concern on the region, the NATO and EU’s policy on these issues, stated Koutsoumbas.
The top issues are irredentism, the need for good neighbourly relations, and the non-redrawing of borders.
The Greek people must be vigilant as revision of the Constitution is not directly foreseen.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ meeting with Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis was concluded on Saturday. Theodorakis was briefed by the premier on the developments on the FYROM name issue.
In statements after the meeting, Theodorakis said that his party has a crystal clear position on the issue. He said that Tsipras has brought this discussion late adding that the people must understand what we will gain from a solution that will address irredentism.
We should go to a compound one-word name in Slavic that can’t be translated erga omnes which would be much better than ‘North or Upper Macedonia” said Theodorakis noting that the main issue is the provisions of the Constitution.
Centrists Union leader Vassilis Leventis met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday evening at the Maximos mansion. Tsipras briefed Leventis on the developments over the FYROM name issue.
“I had asked for consensus and a broad government because we would need it. I told him that instead of starting the negotiations offering compound name we should have asked for exchanges from the start and the other side to have its accession to NATO and EU” said Leventis.
My opinion is the negotiation to start from zero and if this happens, I told the prime minister that the people, with me first, will be on his side, added Leventis.
He clarified that he is against the name Nova Makedonija because Macedonia is Greek and there is no room for deductions on this. “I told Tsipras not to bear this stigma”.
TSIPRAS – PAVLOPOULOS
On Friday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras briefed the President of the Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos at the Presidential Mansion. In his brief comments before the cameras, Tsipras said having different views on how to resolve the FYROM dispute is legitimate, but rejected petty party politics.
“We will handle the issue in a climate of meaningful dialogue and sobriety. Besides, the country’s foreign policy has a continuation. And it is this continuation we respect and extend today and tomorrow,” he said on the name issue.
Tsipras said that an effort for approach was made with the neighbouring country along with some steps to indicate that issues of irredentism have to be resolved.
“I think it is positive and as a sign of goodwill that the name of both the airport and the highway linking the two countries will be renamed, as it is a crucial issue. We all have great sensitivity. Nobody can appropriate another people’s history. In the following period we will insist on the intensification of our efforts,” he said.
“These are issues that have stalled and are burdening our foreign policy,” he added, noting that the effort has to be made to avoid facing this problem again in the future.
On the issue of Albania, the premier said important steps have been made and a great distance has been covered.
“History has shown that our great strength is and remains the fact that we defended our land and our national interests whenever there was solid unity,” Pavlopoulos said.
Pavlopoulos also commented on the ongoing negotiations on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), saying that eliminating irredentism is not just an issue for Greece, but also for the EU, adding it runs contrary to the EU. FYROM’s path towards the EU passes through the elimination of irredentist elements which were also present in the past “and was recognized by everyone, even the United States, when that part of Yugoslavia was formed”.
“We have the goodwill but we defend our national interests, international law and the European acquis,” he added.