In its note sent to Athens, the Macedonian Foreign Ministry assures the Greek Ministry that “the term ‘nationality’ of the Second Party defined in Article 1 (3) (b) of the Agreement as ‘Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia’, refers exclusively to citizenship and does not define or predetermine ethnic affiliation/ethnicity”. This explanation, which is part of the so-called Prespa agreement on the name, flies in the face of what the Macedonian Government is telling its own citizens domestically, where it has assured ethnic Macedonians that their identity is being reinforced under the agreement and that Greece now finally accepts the right of the Macedonians to use that name to self-identify nationally.

Sending this note to the Greek Foreign Ministry is part of the agreement and is precondition for Greece to being the proces of ratification on its end. The note, signed by Nikola Dimitrov, also contains a lengthy explanation on the Macedonian language whose existance as a separate language Greece also denies.

The use of the adjective Macedonian and its use to define the nation and the language were some of the most contentious issues in the negotiations. It also caused a boomerang effect in Macedonia where ethnic Albanian parties demanded that the word “Macedonian” is removed altogether and successfully pressured the Government for various further concessions in order for it to remain in the text.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras used this line of argument to assure his members of Parliament that the agreement does not allow Macedonia to claim the word Macedonian as a national designation, given that many Greeks living in the northern parts of that country say they identify as both Greek and Macedonian.

On top of notifying us, the neighbors also included an explanatory note about the language and citizenship. In a text which is legally binding they explain that the term nationality exclusively means citizenship and does not define their nationality, said Tsipras.

Article 7 of the Agreement defines that the Macedonian identity determines our territory, language and nation, with all their attributes, the history, culture and heritage. The Macedonian language is recognized. Our identity has been preserved, Zoran Zaev wrote in remarks meant for the Macednian public when he was concluding the agreement with Tsipras, an explanation which is entirely contrary to the one offered to Greece.