After initially lying to the public that the Macedonian national anthem was left out of the welcoming reception for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras because of the tight schedule, Zoran Zaev yesterday admitted that it was done to spare the Greek visitor trouble back home.

After forcing Macedonia to change its flag in 1995 and now its name, Greeks object to the Macedonian national anthem because of the lyrics that describe the Macedonian struggle for independence. Another problem was the fact that the army band which was supposed to perform the anthem still had uniforms with the name Republic of Macedonia on them.

We saw that Tsipras is running late, we were thinking where to cut the program, We cut the speeches by one minister each. But, we need to be realistic and say that the Army uniforms were still not resown and we have to do it. As friends, we have to respect the Prespa treaty, we can’t allow Tsipras to fly back to Greece and face criticism in the Greek public. Friends should take care of each other, Zaev said in an interview.

Initially, his spokesman insisted that the only problem was the tight schedule, and nothing else.