The Prespes Agreement had a political cost, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras admitted a day before his visit to North Macedonia, the first of a Greek Prime Minister in the neighboring country.
Speaking to North-Macedonian news agency MIA, Tsipras said that the price paid was that “a significant portion of the Greek people was and still is seriously concerned about this issue. It is our responsibility – mine and Zoran’s – to show that our nations can only benefit from the path that is now open. It is also our duty to challenge the rising forces of nationalism, which strive towards bringing us back to the dark ages.”
He also pointed out that the Agreement “inspired many who have recognized it is viable to solve international differences by mutual respect, while securing one’s interests and without humiliating the other side.”
He described his visit to Skopje as “historical” and underlined the importance of building mutual trust between the peoples of the two countries.
“This visit is historic, based on the new strategic vision for our countries. Greece and North Macedonia must be partners and allies. The Prespes Agreement outcome is not only about the name issue and unlocking North Macedonia’s European and Euro-Atlantic prospects. The Agreement has laid the foundations for strong bilateral relations encompassing cooperation in international, European and regional terms.”
“We must build mutual trust and North Macedonia should look to the future,” Tsipras said further. “Our region requires cooperation and stability: Greece needs a stable and secure northern neighbour, and North Macedonia needs a strong neighbour that supports its European perspectives.”
As Tsipras noted, in terms of the Prespes Agreement signed between the two countries resolving an outstanding decades-long name issue, “Greece will be your main ally and protector with regards to political stability, economic cooperation and development, military cooperation and security.”
He warned, however, that the Agreement “will be tested in critical areas as time goes by,” despite the progress achieved in a brief period of time. Ahead of that, “the dialogue and the trust we have established at all levels, beginning from mine with Zoran (North Macedonia’s PM Zoran Zaev) is precious,” he noted.
Priority in the different aspects of the Prespes Agreement to be implemented will be given to the signing of the first decisions of the Joint Inter-Disciplinary Committee of Experts over the textbooks and the establishment of a very important Committee on Trademarks, he said.
In this context, he said, the High-Level Cooperation Council, which will hold its first meeting during the visit, will include ten ministers from a number of areas – economy, energy, defense, foreign affairs, infrastructure, transport, agriculture development, digital policy, health – along with the first business forum with dozens of businessmen from both countries.
Next to the ten ministers, around 100 Greek businessmen are expected to accompany Alexis Tsipras to the North-Macedonian capital.
PS And if MIA changes its name to NorthMIA, all will be good with the Greek neighbors 🙂