Optimism despite low expectations for Kotzias Skopje visit

Optimism despite low expectations for Kotzias Skopje visit

There is much optimism, amongst the staff of the Foreign Ministries of Greece and FYRO Macedonia, concerning Nikos Kotzias’ upcoming visit to Skopje on 31 August, according to IBNA information.

The visit by the head of the Greek Diplomacy to Skopje follows the visit by Nikola Dimitrov to Athens, who had accepted Kotzias invitation. The June meeting was a first meeting  between the two sides, without there being any discussion on the name issue, as both sides told IBNA.

According to diplomatic sources, the visit will provide a good opportunity to exchange views on the latest regional developments, but also to further promote co-operation between the two countries and build a climate of confidence.

The main topic of Nikos Kotzias’ talks in Skopje, according to diplomatic sources, will be the implementation and expansion of the MoU in order to help improve relations between the two sides. As far as the name issue is concerned, there will be an investigation as to the intentions of the two sides, since the Greek side does not believe there is a willingness on the part of Skopje to negotiate.

The Greek sides reservations regarding Skopje’s willingness to negotiate has serious reason.

The Zaev government has made some attempt on a communication level, according to Greek Foreign Ministry sources, however any attempts must be translated into tangible initiatives towards a positive direction away from irredentism.

This is something that has not happened, as during the Zaev government there have been at least two incidents that have been published, that leave the feeling that nothing in fact has changed. The first concerns the participation of FYRO Macedonia in international games with its constitutional name, and the second the participation of a Skopje diplomat in an event with scandalous symbols, in Toronto, Canada. This indicates the breaking of the Interim Agreement, state Greek diplomatic sources.

The forthcoming October municipal elections in FYROM Macedonia, as Ivan Poposki told IBNA in his last interview, will be highly political for the VMRO-DPMNE. Nikola Gruevski has one last chance to come back to the forefront, saving his political career and his personal freedom, winning the elections, and thus questioning the sovereignty of Zoran Zaev’s political scenery in Skopje.

This prospect largely weakens any desire by Zaev to find a solution to the name issue. The new government would not want to give support that the opposition will take advantage in the pre-election debate of the municipal elections.

What it would want to have in its hands would be the clear prospect of entry into NATO and the EU, of course it knows very well that this is something that goes through the solution of the name issue and Greece.

For its part, Greece actually supports the stability, territorial integrity and security of FYRO Macedonia, while it is the only country in the region that has no vision at the expense of its northern neighbour. Finally, Greece supports the European course of all the Balkans including FYRO Macedonia.

Nikos Kotzias’ initiative to build confidence in important areas such as political and European affairs, culture and education, trade and economic cooperation, justice and home affairs, and so on is confirmation of Athen’s positive attitude towards Skopje.

It should be noted that Nikos Kotzias knows Zoran Zaev, because during his two visits to Skopje the Greek Foreign Minister had a one on one meetings and extensive debates, with the then opposition leader and current Prime Minister of FYRO Macedonia.

It is difficult for Zoran Zaev’s government to weigh up its choices and take those decisions that will pave the way for the Euro-Atlantic course of the country and ensure stability and security./IBNA