While officials from Athens and Skopje were celebrating the “historic agreement,” protesters clashed with police nearby and in some villages church bells rang in mourning. In the small village of Psarades at the Prespes Lake, Greece and FYROM signed the Macedonia agreement that will rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia early Sunday morning. Foreign Ministers Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Dimitrov and UN Special Envoy, Mathew Nimetz put their signatures on the historic document in the presence of Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaef.
“It is a patriotic and mutually beneficial agreement for the two countries, PM Tsipras underlined in his speech. ““We are here to walk together on a new path of security, our signature today lays the foundation for this course,” he added among others. “The fates of the people and countries of the Balkans is interlinked, as is that of the countries of Europe.”
On his part PM Zaef said “We have put an end to the long-term problems that damaged our bilateral relations. Over those three decades that the problem had existed “we have learned important things,” Zaev added, noting the need to learn from history. “Countries must live in peace because otherwise people suffer. The agreement is encouragement for improving the relations and life of the citizens.”
“You cannot achieve anything without courage,” Zaev said, citing ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.
The agreement to rename FYROM to “Republic of North Macedonia” is a preliminary one. in order to take effect, it will need to be ratified in the parliaments of both two countries. Greece has said it will not ratify it before FYROM changes its Constitution and remove irredentist ambitions first. It will need quite some time, until FYROM turns into “North Macedonia.”
After the signing of Macedonia agreement, FYROM prime minister Zaef took of his tie and gave it to Tsipras in a symbolic move of solidarity and friendship.
While the signing ceremony was taking place, Macedonian protesters were trying to approach the village and disturb the ceremony.
Some protesters have reportedly fainted.
They threw stones and sticks at police that had cordoned the area and riot police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
More than 80 buses left several cities and towns in Northern Greece early Sunday morning heading for Psarades.
At the end of the signing ceremony and when the two delegation sailed to the FYROM side of the lake for lunch, protesters moved to Pisoderi to continue their protest.
In village Parades and in one village by Florina, church bells started to ring in mourning right after the signing of Macedonia agreement was sealed.
According to latest reports from Pisoderi area, the protests continue.