Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a nationally televised address this evening announced an historic agreement with FYROM PM Zoran Zaev on the naming issue and issues of identity and language that will allow Skopje to advance its membership application to Nato and the EU, on condition that all terms of the agreement are met.
Tsipras noted that FYROM since its independence has expropriated the cultural heritage of ancient Macedonia, and asserted that the agreement puts such issues on a proper footing.
The PM said that Greece once the terms of the agreement are met will play a primary role in shepherding Skopje into Nato and the EU, and that the agreed name of Northern Macedonia (Severna Makedonija in the Slavic rendition) will apply erga omnes, domestically, in international organizations, and in bilateral relations.
Tsipras said that Zaev agrees to amend the FYROM Constitution, and that 140 countries that now recognise FYROM as Republic of Macedonia will after the agreement recognise it as Republic of Northern Macedonia.
Moreover, Tsipras said that the agreement will draw a clear distinction with the Greek province of Macedonia.
The PM said that this is the first time that Skopje does not, and will not in the future, claim any connection with ancient Macedonia.
The agreement recognises a Macedonian language. Noting that in 1977 the country’s language was recognised as Macedonian, Tsipras said the agreement will note that Macedonian is a southern Slavic language, and that it is extinct from the language of the ancient Macedonians.
The agreement provides that residents of FYROM will henceforth be known as “citizens of Northern Macedonia”, though the ethnicity will apparently be recognised as Macedonian.
Skopje, under the terms of the agreement, will amend its constitution to include the new name and remove references to “Macedonian minorities abroad” and to the need to protect them, and if that constitutional revision does not happen, the process of FYROM gaining EU and Nato membership will be halted.
Tsipras said there is a clear timetable, that the agreement must be ratified by by both parliaments, and that Greece will sign on to the protocol of FYROM’s Nato entry.
Tsipras described the agreement as a diplomatic victory, which guarantees Greece’s cultural heritage.
He said the agreement is an historical opportunity for the Greek nation and the entire region.
The PM said that the agreement renders Greece a leadership force in the Balkans and “a pillar of stability in a deeply wounded region”.