Greek Foreign Minister in Skopje to strengthen cooperation and explore intentions for the name issue

Greek Foreign Minister in Skopje to strengthen cooperation and explore intentions for the name issue

On 31 August, by car, the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will leave for Skopje on an official visit in return for the visit of Nikola Dimitrov on 14 June in Athens.

For safety reasons, as IBNA has reported, the Greek FM will not spend the night in Skopje on 30 August as was the original planning, but in Thessaloniki, as the only officially accepted way that Greece connects with FYRO Macedonia is the road axis of Thessaloniki – Skopje. This is due to the renaming of Skopje’s airport as “Alexander the Great”, which prevents direct flights from Greece to Skopje.

During his stay in Skopje, Mr Kotzias will hold talks and a working lunch with his counterpart Nikola Dimitrov, while as IBNA has already revealed, he will have a series of contacts with the political leadership of FYRO Macedonia.

Although Zoran Zaev’s new government has made some moves on the communicative level, it is in fact continuing its irredentist policy towards Greece, which has annoyed the Greek Foreign Ministry. This at least is implied by the use of the Constitutional name of FYRO Macedonia in international organizations such as the Pan-European Handball Championship, as well as the participation in an irredentist event in Toronto’s Consulate.

According to diplomatic sources, the visit will provide a good opportunity for an exchange of views on the latest regional developments, as well as for the further promotion of cooperation between the two countries and the consolidation of a climate of confidence.

Informed sources have told IBNA that Greece remains committed to improving cooperation between the two countries, as the main subject of the talks will be the implementation and expansion of the confidence-building measures, something that will help improve relations between Athens and Skopje. It is no coincidence that the delegation that will accompany Nikos Kotzias will consist of the highest ranks of Greek diplomacy.

Greece, according to the same sources, is the only country in the region that has no agenda at the expense of FYRO Macedonia, supports the European course of all the Balkan countries, including FYRO Macedonia, while at the same time contributing to the consolidation of a culture of consensus and compromise for the sake of stability and security, not only internally but also at a regional level.

However, as Nikos Kotzias has stated, “we can not do more for FYRO Macedonia than what it intends to do itself for joining the Euro-Atlantic structures”, making it clear that the country’s future for its Euro-Atlantic course is determined by the choices it will make itself.

What Greece expects is the government’s announcements to translate into tangible initiatives in a positive direction, away from anachronistic irredentism, that would give impetus to the solution of the name issue. This is an issue that will be discussed at the Kotzias – Dimitrov meeting, but more as an exploration of intentions, as no proposal or thought has been tabled by Skopje so far, which demonstrates Skopje’s reluctance and tacit tactic to negotiate.

Diplomatic circles do not exclude a new political crisis in Skopje as a result of the October municipal elections results in FYROM Macedonia, which makes the government of Zoran Zaev nervous and timid to come with a sincere mood to negotiate the solution of the name issue./IBNA