Greek opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that his New Democracy party will work to reduce the damage caused by the Prespa treaty. ND is expected to take over the Greek Government later this year, as polls ahead of the general elections give it a solid lead over the leftist SYRIZA party.
Asked about whether his late father, former Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, who was toppled after he was seen as too lenient on the “Macedonian issue”, would have signed the Prespa treaty, he answered “no”. The reason why the treaty is bad for Greece, Mitsotakis, says, is that it could pave the way for greater minority rights for the Macedonians living in Greece, who have faced nearly a century of expulsions and forced assimilation.
I have read my father’s speeches on the issue and I present his words. He said that our country already has a religious minority in Thrace (Turks) and should not, under any circumstances, allow the creation of another, national minority, a Macedonian minority in Northern Greece. This was the great worry of Konstantinos Mistotakis, Kyriakos Mistotakis said at a party rally in Sparta.
Mistotakis has threatened to ignore the article of the Prespa treaty under which Greece must allow Macedonia to continue its European Union accession. Name issue aside, Greece, and especially other EU members, can always raise other failures in meeting EU criteria and block Macedonia from opening accession talks.
Mitsotakis said that, if the name of the “neighboring country” whose name he avoids like the plague, is “North Macedonia”, then its inhabitants and language should be called “North Macedonian”.
The Greek opposition leader portrayed the pressure laid on both countries to sign the treaty despite its widespread rejection among both nations, as driven by American and European interests to bring “Skopje into NATO”.
I would not have objected to this, provided that it was not done in violation of Greek national interests. But, at this point, relations between the two countries are worse then they were a year before, and this will have a negative economic effect, at least in the short term, Mitsotakis said, before adding that these days, Prime Minister Tsipras feels more comfortable walking through Skopje than Solun/Thessaloniki, where the opposition to the treaty is most vocal.
Mitsotakis also announced that his future Government will work to strongly brand Greek products as “Macedonian”, and will strengthen the “brand of Greek Macedonia”.
That will be our task because under the Prespa treaty, the adjective Macedonian and the Macedonian identity was given exclusively to the neighboring country, Mitsotakis said.