Monday, 29 November 2021 | News today: 0

Greek ‘New Democracy’ party against proposed confidence building steps with Macedonia

Greek main opposition party New Democracy has come out strongly against the proposal that confidence building measures are initiated between Macedonia and Greece, MIA correspondent in Athens reports.

Macedonian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Poposki and his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias meeting at an informal gathering in Riga recently agreed that the two countries work on a list of proposals that would show that Macedonia and Greece are able to work together.

Kotzias, speaking before the Greek Parliament on Wednesday evening, said that discussions with Macedonia will begin in April. Kotzias said the list would include some practical issues, not related to the name issue talks, but that would improve the cooperation and could make the name issue talks easier. Greece has blocked Macedonian membership in NATO and European Union integration with its demand that the country must first change its name.

Kotzias told Parliament that some of the proposals will include issues such as opening a border crossing near lake Prespa, something that locals on both sides of the lake, have asked for a long time. This would contribute to improving tourism in the region. The new Greek Government, made of the far left SYRIZA party and the nationalist Independent Greeks party, has maintained a rigid line on Macedonia, with Independent Greeks going even further than the usual Greek positions, and demanding that the United Nations led talks are cut off, or that Greece insists that any possible solution to the name issue would not even include the word “Macedonia”.

But, even the practical steps Poposki and Kotzias were talking about caused anger among opposition New Democracy, whose leader, and until recently Greek Prime Minister Andonis Samaras, is widely considered to be the author of the name dispute with his nationalist stance in the early 1990s.

New Democracy member of Parliament Giorgos Koumoutsakos said that making these confidence buildings steps would not be a good idea for Greece. Koumoutsakos went on to say that Macedonia has irredentist positions toward Greece, a common charge in Greece that implies that Macedonia wants to take over Greek territory.