Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos sent a firm message to the newly elected nationalist leadership of North Macedonia on Friday, during a campaign rally in the city of Veria, in northern Greece’s Macedonia province, warning that if the latter violate the Prespa Agreement the country’s path to European Union accession will be “blocked”.

The incumbent premier and leader of the ruling New Democracy (ND) stressed that if the government in Skopje fails to fully comply with all provisions of the agreement – a 2018 landmark bilateral accord ratified by both countries which, among other things, compelled Greece’s south Balkan neighbor to the north to use the term “Republic of North Macedonia” for all uses – the Greek parliament would not ratify the remaining memoranda of cooperation.

“If some believe that they can disregard the Agreement, they should know two things: First, their path to Europe will remain closed, and second, the Memoranda that need to be ratified will not be approved until there is complete compliance. Complete compliance from the new government with what the Agreement stipulates. Without extremism, without many voices, with the necessary strictness with which the Greek government approaches all these issues,” said the Prime Minister.

“Let me be absolutely clear from the heart of Macedonia. New Democracy did not vote for the Prespa Agreement and we had expressed serious reservations when it was ratified in the Greek Parliament. However, we had also said, with complete honesty, that once this Agreement is voted on, it practically cannot be changed. And we would have to respect it despite its problems, and that is what we have done.

The highly contentious name dispute resurfaced after the newly elected President Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova omitted the “North” part in reciting the written oath of office during her swearing-in ceremony – instead, using stand-alone “Macedonia”.

During his address, the Greek premier also made reference to the issue of migration, pointing to the construction of a fortified fence along the land border with Turkey in the Evros prefecture, sending a message that the country was not an “fence-less vineyard” – a colloquial phrase in Greek – for anyone to enter at will or for “unscrupulous human traffickers” to breach.