The Greek Government issued a stern warning to Zoran Zaev that he is violating the Prespa Treaty when he tries to insert the adjective “Macedonian” in his public remarks. The specific case which prompted a reaction from Greek Government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni was Zaev’s tweet during the football game between Macedonia and the Netherlands, where he said he is supporting the “Macedonian football team”.

We demand the full implementation of the Prespa Agreement and its spirit and we call on Mr Zaev to refrain from divisive rhetoric, especially in such a sensitive issue such as football. In any case, the good faith implementation of the agreement is one of the criteria for the country’s accession to the European Union, Peloni said, adding a direct warning that Macedonia could face even more difficulties in its stalled EU accession process.

Zaev enthusiastically uses the imposed name “North Macedonia” when talking about the country and its official institutions. But he has insisted that the Prespa Treaty allows Macedonia to use the adjective “Macedonian” when discussing issues such as “Macedonian culture”, “Macedonian sports” and such. But it is clear that this is now agreed with Greece. Zaev also claimed that, with the 2018 treaty, Greece accepted that we are Macedonians, and accepted that our language is Macedonian. Zaev also claimed that the Prespa Treaty removes obstacles on Macedonia’s path to the EU. All these promises are coming crashing down in the past months, as Bulgaria blocks Macedonia and raises nationalist demands, while Greece is apparently waiting in the wings, ready to strike at any provocation.

Greece already raised objections over the Macedonian football team, because it used the FFM logo of the Football Federation of Macedonia on the jerseys. Even after Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said that FFM does not have an obligation to change its name and insert a “North” in it because it is not a publicly funded institution, Zaev promised that he will pressure the Federation to rename itself.