Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras failed to get the backing of main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, head of the center right New Democracy party, on his plans for a compromise solution to ongoing talks with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Instead, what he got was a dressing down for the way he has handled negotiations thus far, accusing the prime minister of “petty political games” and stating in a televised address after his meetings that Greeks do not trust Tsipras to “negotiate anything.”
He said resolving the name dispute was not just a foreign policy matter but a serious issue relating to Greece’s history and “the very identity of Greeks”.
“We will not divide Greeks to unite Skopje,” Mitsotakis said after his meeting with Tsipras.
Mitsotakis, whose party is leading in opinion polls, blamed Tsipras for not asking for constitutional changes in Skopje as a “necessary precondition” for any talks, and for failing to keep important elements of Greek society informed of the negotiations.
He said in his remarks that the window of opportunity for a deal has closed.
There have been indications that Tsipras and his team of negotiators are seeking a composite name compromise with Skopje, including a geographical name like “North Macedonia,” or another name that includes the name “Macedonia.”
But Tsipras is alone in his plan, without even the support of his own coalition partner, Panos Kammenos, leader of the ANEL (Independent Greeks) party, who has ruled out any use of the word Macedonia.
The powerful Greek Orthodox Church is also opposed to any use of the historic Greek name for the country.
Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of Greeks came together in Thessaloniki to protest Tsipras’ plans and a similar demonstration is planned for Athens in February where organizers hope to attract 1 million people or 10% of the Greek population.
Mitsotakis’ response to his meeting with Tsipras (in Greek) follows:
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