Sunday, 16 December 2018 | News today: 2

Greece to send draft-agreement to Macedonia before FM Kotzias visits Skopje

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The draft-agreement has been finished before being forwarded by the Greek Foreign Ministry to the national government. After the document is sent to Macedonia, most probably, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will plan a trip to Skopje.

Speaking to the Greek state radio station on Saturday, the Minister said that Greece’s proposal had been drafted. Kotzias said that most likely he would visit Skopje in March, not in February as it has been widely reported. He noted that he would like to do a small, but symbolic gesture upon his arrival in Skopje.

“We were thinking it might be a good thing if we were to do a somewhat small, symbolic event in order to emphasize that fact that things are changing. Instead of seeing an escalation of nationalistic ‘attacks’ with symbols against Greece, we are witnessing removal of irredentist symbols that have swarmed Skopje,” Kotzias said.

On the content of the draft-agreement, he reiterated that it contained ‘the name and derived words’ falling short of revealing whether it offered the proposal Upper Macedonia and how many proposals Greece had put forward, MIA’s correspondent reports from Athens.

Minister Kotzias reiterated the position of official Athens – an agreement would require a constitutional change because Greece ‘insists upon the fact that an agreement should persist over time and solve issues without creating new ones.’

“The way to make sure that the name, which will be agreed, is stable is through the Constitution. Because, as you may know, you cannot use some name A in your foreign affairs while also having a name B for internal use,” stressed Kotzias.

Asked to comment on PM Zoran Zaev’s statement that he hoped and wished the name dispute to be settled by March, the Greek FM said he wasn’t sure the longstanding issue could be closed next month.

“I don’t know, I’m not sure. If Mr. Zaev showed a more compromise mood than before, than yes. But, he said it would be closed in March while also saying things that don’t suggest a mood of more compromise,” FM Kotzias told the state radio station, MIA reports.

Also, Kotzias criticized the opposition parties in Greece. He said Zaev was right ‘when he said no one demanded change of the Constitution,’ because former administrations in Greece never demanded it. To all those who opposed the inclusion of the term Macedonia into a name settlement, the Greek diplomat told them that the constitutional name had been recognized by more than 140 countries.

“Now, we are trying to create a compound name. Some of them are behaving as if this country was created yesterday and today we are deciding how it is going to be called. For 25 years, it has been called the Republic of Macedonia by the majority of countries on this planet,” elaborated the Greek Foreign Minister.