Greece is becoming a leading power in the Balkans, not through the use of force but by acting as an example of cooperation and solidarity, Minister of State and government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Sunday.
“From now on, our country will only count friends in the Balkans,” he said in an interview with the Greek paper ‘Real News’, while accusing main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis of adopting a “dangerous stance” that leads it to unite with “the most extreme and nationalist circles in FYROM”.
The agreement signed on Sunday between Greece and FYROM would accelerate its European accession prospects but also those of Albania and Serbia, Tzanakopoulos said. This would end a long period of tension and instability that other countries had invested in, for their own reasons, while Greece would emerge as a leader for both the economic prosperity of the region and for upgrading its geopolitical importance.
He also dismissed suggestions that the erga omnes application of the name agreed was “cancelled” by the agreements on the language and nationality of Greece’s northern neighbours.
“Whoever says this is either deliberately lying or is simply uneducated,” he said, explaining that the ‘erga omnes’ referred to the use of the name of the country, obliging its use in dealings with other countries and organisations apart from Greece, as well as in the country’s interior.
He pointed out that Greece had not raised objections to the existence of a Macedonian language until the early 1990s. “The objections raised in the 90s in the public arguments of various sides is clearly in the framework of a historically ignorant, nationalist fervour that conceals reality and seeks only to misinform and create impressions,” he added, noting that the existence of such a language had been previously accepted by the Greek academic community.
Tzanakopoulos also pointed out that the travel documents used by Greece’s northern neighbour already referred to their “Macedonian” nationality, to which the term ‘citizen of North Macedonia’ would also be added. “Draw your own conclusions as to whether we gained or lost by the deal,” he said.