Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday again signaled his conservative government’s sharp disapproval with the new leadership of Greece’s landlocked neighbor – North Macedonia – as the newly sworn-in president and the premier-designate of the latter conspicuously left out the Prespa Agreement-mandated “North” part in the name.

In a direct Prespa violation, new North Macedonia President Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova and Prime Minister-designate Hristijan Mickoski said it was their “constitutional right” to call the country “Macedonia” – the stand-alone term – in comments to citizens of the country. Both the head of state and expected new head of government in NATO’s newest member belong to the nationalist VMRO party.

New North Macedonia President Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova.

“It’s known that New Democracy (Mitsotakis’ ruling party) voted against the Prespa Agreement; let me remind you that we even tabled a motion of censure against (the then) SYRIZA (government) that promoted it. Mind you, not because we didn’t want a solution to the issue, but because the specific pact granted the Macedonian ethnicity and language to our neighbors,” the Greek prime minister said from the northern city of Thessaloniki, where he spoke at the general assembly of the Greek Exporters Association (SEVE).

Prespa Violation

“As the new government (in July 2019), we honored Greece’s signature on an international agreement, which is legally valid. However, seeing for some time now the rise of nationalism in Skopje (the North Macedonian capital), we remained cautious in accepting the memoranda that accompanied the agreement. Unfortunately, developments have confirmed these reservations,” Mitsotakis said in reference to a handful of Prespa-related memoranda that have not been ratified by Greece’s Parliament.
Speaking to an audience of representatives of companies that export products abroad, Mitsotakis also called for a trade “counter-offensive” on the back of the authenticity and high quality of “the products and services of our Macedonia”.

He was referring to the northern Greece province of Macedonia, which approximates to historical Macedonia of antiquity and occupies slightly more than half of geographical Macedonia.

The Greek PM also repeated his warning from last week, stressing that North Macedonia’s “… path towards Europe and progress also passes through our country, where it can end.”

Earlier in the day, in separate statements, Greek Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis reminded that neither of the two parties of the Prespa Agreement can unilaterally modify or abolish the treaty, “while it’s a basic knot on which the international relationship with North Macedonia was built.”

He added that the issue of abrogating the agreement has not been raised and noted that Greece respects the election result in the former Yugoslav republic, regardless of any ideological or political differences that the new leadership may have regarding the Prespa Agreement.