European Western Balkans

Tzifakis: Delay in Prespa Agreement implementation threatens its ratification in Greece

Nikolaos Tzifakis; Photo: BSF 2017/Aleksandar Anđić

ATHENS – While it has not significantly influenced public opinion in Greece, the referendum in Macedonia has certainly made the ratification of Prespa agreement more complicated for both sides, states Nikolaos Tzifakis, Associate professor of the University of the Peloponnese and a member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG).

“The outcome has not affected in any way the camps of supporters and opponents of the agreement. The former remarked that the referendum was not legally binding, while many of the latter assessed that the agreement should be considered void”, he emphasises.

A poll conducted immediately after the referendum in Macedonia by the Proto tema portal shows that 72% of Greek citizens want their country to withdraw from the Agreement, while 68% support holding their own referendum on the issue, Tanjug reported. The future of the Agreement is thus not only uncertain in Macedonia, but in Greece as well.

Government of Alexis Tsipras nevertheless seems determined to go through with the ratification of the Agreement. On the other hand, the main opposition party, New Democracy, already expressed its opposition to it. Therefore, the outcome of the referendum seems to have made the situation more complicated.

Tzifakis believes that the delay in implementation of the name change jeopardizes the possibility of its ratification in Greece.

“While the Prespa Agreement previewed that this process will be completed by the end of the year, it is now evident that the ratification may take a few more months. However, the later the agreement is ratified in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the greater is the possibility that its ratification in Greece will not be completed during the government term of Alexis Tsipras”

“This is because, reportedly, Greece may head for early parliamentary elections in May in which, according to all polls, New Democracy may come to power”, Tzifakis explains.

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