Thursday, 14 December 2017 | News today: 14

Papadakis: Tsipras will not change Greek policy regarding name issue

We are all aware Greece wants to keep this issue open as longer as possible, since it is directly tied to Macedonian minority. If Greece does not finally come to its senses soon and accept the existence of a distinct Macedonian identity - which is different than the Greek one, than nothing will be resolved. If you are asking me if Tsipras is the one who will make that step, the answer - unfortunately - is negative

Political analyst Jorgos Papadakis, a representative of European free Alliance, which is a left-oriented party within European Parliament, is analyzing political situation in Greece post SYRIZA’s early elections victory and assesses how can it affect the name issue. Papadakis, whose origins are from Crete and is taking part in Macedonian movement in Greece, is know to be well-acquainted with Greek political stage and situation in the region.

SYRIZA won the government making promises which all relevant institutions and experts find unrealistic. Will Tsipras remain to be a radical leftist or will he turn into a bureaucrat who cannot live without European money?

PAPADAKIS: Let’s get one thing straight. Tsipras has never been and will never be a radical leftist. He is a pure product of the Greek political system, so it is almost certain a shift in new government’s course is to be expected, and that government would have to pour “a lot of water in the glass of wine”. It remains for us to see how shall such government manage to make a balance between EU’s conditions and anti-European feelings majority citizens have. However, it doesn’t seem too well.

Do changes regarding name issue come into question? Tsipras used to be moderate regarding this matter.

PAPADAKIS: He obviously doesn’t want to answer this question. But, whenever asked about it, he would give an answer identical to those of any Greek politician, at least those who are in the Parliament. Just the last time he seemed to have forgotten to add “erga omnes” to the answer, so there were speculations it might have been on purpose. Personally, I think it was just a slip and that he will resume moving down the line of Samaras and his predecessors. Forming a coalition with the Independent Greeks and SYRIZA’s statements it will respect party feelings regarding the so-called “national issues” does not promise any positive developments in that regard.

Many believe it is high time the dispute between Macedonia and Greece is resolved. Is there any possibility for it to happen during Tsipras’ era?

PAPADAKIS: I also am one of those who believe this absurd dispute should come to an end, so that we can all move on. But, how? By dictating a solution? Certainly not. We are all aware Greece wants to keep this issue open as longer as possible, since it is directly tied to Macedonian minority. If Greece does not finally come to its senses soon and accept the existence of a distinct Macedonian identity – which is different than the Greek one, than nothing will be resolved. If you are asking me if Tsipras is the one who will make that step, the answer – unfortunately – is negative.

“Rainbow” again did not take part in the elections. To what extent is that useful when such message of boycott and – in a certain manner – a protest against Greek political system, cannot reach to citizens?

PAPADAKIS: “Rainbow” and European Free Alliance, where I have the honor be be working now, have the right to self-determination as a pillar to their policy. Greece as it is now, unfortunately, does not respect that, neither it has it on its list of priorities, while “Rainbow” did not take part in the election because Mr. Tsipras and his colleagues from the other parties have decided to make the elections too expensive for smaller parties and to set a 3% census to prevent minorities from entering the parliament. When SYRIZA was just a small party, he used to openly oppose such rules according to which every party does not get MP seats according to the number of votes it has won. Now it is much easier for him to take the bonus of 50 MPs, which is granted to the biggest party. It is not a democracy, it is the lowest form political opportunism. Former minister Antonio Milososki claims Dora Bakoyannis has told him Greece cannot agree for Macedonia to join the EU before Serbia does. To what extent is that in accordance with Greek politics back than and now?

I have no reason to believe she told him so. Greek politicians, especially when abroad, tell shameless lies whenever they open their mouths. Greece is aware it was and it is very difficult for Serbia, as well as any Balkan country, to make it to the EU. They want to find ways to conceal the real reasons why Macedonia is being blocked. That includes Macedonian identity, language and culture.

Macedonian road to the EU has been blocked, enlargement fatigue keeps popping up more and more often, over 60% of the Europeans are against accession of new members.

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How can this affect Macedonia and Serbia?

PAPADAKIS: As I said, everyone knows that at the moment hardly any country in the region can join the EU. The EU is to blame for this fact, but also the states in our neighborhood. EU allows a state, the Republic of Macedonia respectively, to stand in the waiting room for negotiations almost 10 years. For almost a year and a half, the EU allows the fact that no chapter in the negotiations with Serbia is opened, which de facto do not exist. All of this has counter effects as well. Do you believe that Vucic genuinely wants Serbia to join the EU? How long will Macedonia have to wait, due to the whims and frustrations of Greece and Bulgaria, before starting to change priorities, if they are not already changed? And how long will the Balkans be Europe’s black hole?  That must be seriously considered, both in Brussels and in the region, because we now stand in place with no progress on any field. There is no real EU alternative  either for Macedonia or Serbia. Nevertheless, the EU needs to change first.

The rise of the influence of the farright parties in the EU could have an impact on EU leaders and they could play the populism card so as not to lose the voters’ support. Where can Cameron’s populism play take the EU?

PAPADAKIS: That is why I say that the EU must be deeply reformed, first for the sake of its own future, and to be able to accept new members.  Democracy must be implemented everywhere, citizens must have a voice, to decide about their future on their own. The European Parliament has to be the main instrument of the EU, not the Commission or the Council. If it does not do it, then any Cameron will be able to use the situation to guide the voters anywhere they want, even outside the EU. And that could mean the end of the Union.

You come from Greece, you perfectly know the situation in Macedonia, you lived in Serbia and know the relationship Athens – Skopje – Belgrade quite well. From that perspective, what impact has the Greek churches bloc on SOC decisions in regard to MOC?

PAPADAKIS: It is obvious that there is an impact. Both churches have always worked great and we all know how powerful they are in the two countries, especially in Greece, where church and state are not divided yet. Add that to that the fact that  the churches are usually ruled by dark ultranationalist circles and you will get the answer to your question.

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By: Goran Momiroski