New provocations by Greece’s neighbours were to be expected

22 May, 2024

Those who characterized the Prespa Agreement as “shameful” are being proven right!

The simultaneous disturbance in bilateral relations with Albania, Skopje, and Turkey should not surprise anyone. It is a predictable development in the perennial cycle of crises: crisis – de-escalation – and again crisis with neighbours.

Erdogan’s provocations with the Monastery of Chora and the maritime parks, before Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ recent visit to Ankara, the “sly” appearance of Rama in Athens, and the victory of VMRO nationalists in Skopje once again demonstrate that we will never “rest,” as some dream due to ignorance, naivety, or petty political aspirations. These “fresh challenges” mentioned above serve as a harsh but useful grounding in reality for everyone.

The new president of the nationalist VMRO, Gordana Silianovska, did exactly what she always declared she would do, calling her country “Macedonia” at her inauguration, precisely violating the most fundamental term – and essence – of the Agreement between the two countries.

This is the greatest national defeat in decades. And this development highlights the complete lack of political foresight of Alexis Tsipras, who went to the village of Psarades to sign the Prespa Agreement with Zoran Zaev, an Agreement that the majority of Greeks around the world described as “shameful.”

Many argue that the current government’s stance, which accepted the validity of the agreement, supporting that the state has “continuity,” and has tolerated for many years now the continuous violations of it by the Skopje government, is equally unacceptable.

Of course, the recent blatant violation of the Agreement by the new president of Skopje forced the Greek side to react.

The announcement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs clearly leaves open Greece’s veto on the European perspective of the entity of Skopje, emphasizing that “… further progress in its bilateral relations with North Macedonia as well as the European path of the latter depends on the full implementation of the Prespa Agreement and mainly on the use of the country’s constitutional name.”

In light of the new developments, it remains to be seen if Greece will exercise its veto right, as so far Bulgaria has proven much more decisive.

However, as Professor Angelos Syrigos has noted in the book “The Prespa Agreement and the Macedonian Issue,” “Any denunciation of the Prespa Agreement does not reneg Greece’s recognition of the ‘Macedonian language’ and the ‘Macedonian’ citizenship of the citizens of the neighbouring state. The two states will continue to be bound by the specific provisions, as well as by Article 7 of the Agreement. The only possibility is for Greece to identify a material violation of the Prespa Agreement and based on that to request its termination.”

The fundamental mistake of those proposing national compromises is that they continue to see national issues as a “momentary affair,” detached from their historical escalation and, above all, they underestimate their future evolution.


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