Greece v North Macedonia

It was seen from Europe and the world, a resounding success of the international diplomacy. This earned them, for their signatories and promoters – the Greek and Macedonian Prime Ministers, Alexis Tsipras Yes Zoran Zayev—, a nomination for Nobel Peace Prize.

He triumphed abroad, but the agreement to change the name of North Macedonia, ratified last January in a huge row, has created many problems at home. Yes Twelve Coastsdeputy of Syriza —the party of Tsipras— and president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Hellenic Parliament, experienced it firsthand. The tension lasted for several days. He suffered like few others.

“In private, members of other parties have told me that the agreement it was good. That text solved the problem. But in public, during the parliamentary debate, I received constant insults and bullying.intimidation “Explains the MP, who is running for election again but does not have them all with him: “Maybe all this cost me my re-election. You cannot be chosen. But I regret nothing. I’m proud of what we’ve done.”

Most, however, don’t see it that way. almost the 70% of Greek citizens they see this agreement, which settles a dispute that has lasted two and a half decades, as a historic error. They spoke in Greecevery bold words: that Tsipras is a traitor to the fatherland and that North Macedonia will take advantage of its new name to invade and claim for itself the Greek province of Macedonia, whose capital is Thessaloniki.

“historic crime”

“This agreement is the main reason why Tsipras will lose the election this Sunday. three million people. Macedonia is Greek and a Slavic country cannot be allowed to use this name. The case is a historical crime”He says Georgios Tatsiospresident of the Greek Federation of Macedonian Cultural Associations. Tatsios asks to do the telephone interview because, he says, he does not live in Athens but in the “Royal Macedonia”the true, the only, the inimitable: the north of Greece.

The problem then is purely nationalist. Both countries – Greece and North Macedonia – claim for themselves the historical heritage of Alexander The Greatwho built his empire, who reached Egypt and India, of this region of the Southern Balkans, today divided into these two States. Yes founding mythsOf course, they cannot be shared with the neighbor, either the one above or the one below.

Revoke or modify

“Let the readers think of it this way: let them imagine what is coming now France and says that its citizens are Spanish, and that they want the territory of Spain. And that they also want their history and their past. Of course, people would protest,” summarizes Tatsios, who is calling on the new government emerging from the elections to completely destroy the pact.

It will be difficult, because New Democracy (ND), the favored party in the polls, has already said it won’t. “We can’t break the agreement, but we will fight to improve it -He says Haris Theoharis, parliamentary candidate for ND—. It was terrible and we will negotiate to change it. And we will be extremely hard and severe. But the name change to North Macedonia will be respected.”

What ND hopes to achieve: that language from North Macedonia is not called Macedonian; that the inhabitants of North Macedonia are not called Macedonians.

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The agreement, however, is celebrated by many as it will finally allow North Macedonia, after 28 years of independence, to have access to NATO and the EU. But it could also cost him the job of Alexis Tsipras.

“If a leader does not take risks, then he is not a leader”, he summarizes. Twelve Coasts, member of Syriza—. The problem between the two countries had cost us both heartache. We may lose on Sunday, but I’ll take this deal as the greatest political success of my entire life”.

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