Sunday, 18 November 2018 | News today: 7

North or South Macedonia, who cares, as long as we are officially recognized, Zaev tells BBC

In an interview on BBC’s Hardtalk show, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he did not fear for his future, his security, nor his political career, answering the journalist’s questing whether he feared for his safety after nationalists in Macedonia declared him a traitor.

Zaev showed the scars on his face he received from the protesters on April 27.

It’s been a year since that. Our country has changed. Here there are opponents of the agreement, that I have betrayed the history, that I have sold the name. But the agreement in a cautious manner recognizes the identity, and the fact is that we are in the north of the territory of Macedonia. It is important that we will sit together at the table with the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany in the NATO alliance, we will have our place, there will be our flag, we will be equal. I do not fear for my future, neither physical nor political career. It is a sensitive and painful issue, but it provides a good future for my citizens,” said Zaev.

In the Hardtalk interview, Zaev expresses his conviction that the referendum will pass successfully and that citizens will vote for a name change in a referendum, because, as he said, polls show that 75 percent are in favour of NATO and the EU.

On the journalist’s remark that at the last parliamentary elections VMRO-DPMNE got more votes and that the party considers the agreement unconstitutional and illegal, Zaev said:

“They blame us that the agreement is unconstitutional and illegal. But this is an agreement and it has my signature and the signature of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. And there will be a referendum,” he said.

Zaev also complained from President Gjorge Ivanov for refusing to sign the agreement and the Law on Languages.

“He applies new rules, like a pocket veto that is not provided in our Constitution. We hope that Macedonian lawyers will find a way to remove this blockade imposed by Ivanov because if this continues, he can block all laws,” he said.

Zaev accused VMRO-DPMNE of having done great damage to the state over the past years, especially in the area of inter-ethnic relations.

Asked about the monuments of the Skopje 2014 project, he said that “Alexander the Great” would certainly not be displaced, because the government does not plan to spend additional money on it.

“History is the reason we are trapped in these 27 years, we learn from the past that we must be focused on the future. Alexander the Great had great Macedonia, and we have our Macedonia. We want to build good relations with Greece, based on friendship and without territorial pretensions,” he added.

Zaev admitted he was worried whether the agreement would be ratified in the Greek parliament, as many parties oppose it.

“The reaction of the opposition parties in the two countries is identical, as copy paste. I am trying to convince Mitsotakis that there are different interpretations of the term Macedonian in our country and their country. Let’s give the agreement a chance. Our official name will be the Republic of North Macedonia, we will send a letter to all countries of the United Nations that we have an agreement with Greece and that we have a new name. It will be the name for official use. After that, who cares what we will be called, North, or South Macedonia. We will officially be North, and everything agreed with Greece will be implemented. The Greeks got an erga omnes name, we got an erga omnes identity,” he said.