European Western Balkans

Can Skopje and Athens agree on “Ilindenska Macedonia”?

Dimitrov and Kotzias; Photo: Bulgarian Presidency

SKOPJE – In less than 48 hours after the promotion of the “new” name, both Skopje and Athens are looking for a solution for a new situation. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev received support only from coalition partner DUI at the leadership meeting, but other stakeholders failed to show enthusiasm.

His Greek counterpart, Alexis Tsipras, had an even worse response – he received four solid “no’s” from other parties and one emphatic “no” from the president of the country. The internal damage to Tsipras is yet to be, since he received no support from coalition parties, and in the last moments of the new proposal, Mitsotakis, and even the Communists who hold anti-NATO views distanced themselves.

Foreign ministers and Dimitrov and Kotzias are set to hold a new meeting in the United States. Kotzias will have a series of talks, on Thursday and Friday, the 24th and 25th of May. Mediator Matthew Nimetz is also expected to attend the meeting between Dimitrov and Kotzias.

One day after the announcement of the proposal regarding “Ilindenska”, the Greek government released with a general statement.

It says “we welcome the fact that FYROM has accepted that the solution to the name issue cannot go without an “erga omnes”, i.e. the use of the new name by everyone which would apply everywhere”.

The Greek government urged for “co-operation to continue in finding an acceptable name for both sides, with a time or geographical heading” and reminded that any decision would imply a change to the Constitution.

On Saturday after the leadership meeting, Prime Minister Zaev called on “all political forces in society, all groups and communities to participate, in order to use this historic opportunity for definite joint success in Macedonia”.

“With the name “Republic of Ilindenska Macedonia” we will make the foundation of our Republic stronger, while Ilinden means the historical continuity of our aspirations, our statehood and our pride. Ilinden is our glorious past, Ilinden is our bright future”, stated Zaev.

Zaev said that no constitutional change can be expected for any solution for the name issue. He says that the Republic of Ilindenska Macedonia is a name that does not jeopardize it, but on the contrary it strengthens the identity of Macedonia, and gives Greece a complex name with a time determinant.

“This proposal was considered in Macedonia. I do not think there is a political party, an intellectual, a normal citizen who is insulted by this proposal. I believe we should continue. First, let’s look at this solution to the end and I appeal to everyone in Greece to consider it, because it’s worth it “, Zaev said.

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