An article by the BBC on the Prespes Agreement caused controversy in Athens over the weekend, as opposition parties and ruling SYRIZA issued strong announcements attacking each other.
According to the BBC piece, with the Prespes Agreement Athens may have “recognised the existence of a Macedonian language and ethnicity” but it “has denied the existence” of a “Macedonian minority” in Greece.
Main opposition New Democracy issued an announcement urging Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to take immediate action and make clear that there is no Macedonian ethnic minority in Greece. The party pointed out that it had warned of the pitfalls and serious issues the Prespes Agreement carried, adding that the accord will generate problems for Greece over time.
Diplomatic sources commented on the BBC story, pointing out that the Prespes deal eliminates any chance of a minority issue being raised. The PM’s office later attacked New Democracy, accusing the party and leader Kyriacos Mitsotakis of becoming “extreme propagandists of unacceptable and unsubstantiated allegations, confirming that they are not only ignorant but also nationally dangerous”.
The PM’s office announcement went on to argue that “the Prespes Agreement has finally put an end to the question of a supposed minority, and our [North Macedonia] neighbors not only subscribe to this but also expressly accept it in their statements”. It added that the BBC story is an “attempt to raise non-existent issues”.
In a second announcement, New Democracy countered that the government should not underestimate the issue, nor attack the main opposition party for Warning the PM in time of the unfavorable consequences of the Prespes Agreement.
Alexis Tsipras’s office responded with a strong-worded announcement, urging Kyriacos Mitsotakis and his party to stop “gambling with nationally sensitive issues”, adding that their “gibberish” has “no institutional substance”.
The center-left Movement for Change also attacked the government. In an announcement, the party said it only took a few days since the ratification of the Prespes Agreement for irredentism and propaganda to appear. The Fofi Gennimata – led party added that the Greek premier ignored the people when he struck the Prespes deal and must now respond effectively to provocation./ΙΒΝΑ