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Kotzias: Greece to present four-point agreement to Macedonia

Name proposals, irredentism, international and regional relations of Macedonia and measures for positive agenda are four points of the draft agreement which Greece is to forward to Macedonia by mid-February, Greek FM Nikos Kotzias told Greece’s state broadcaster ERT, MIA reports from Athens.

Kotzias said that the agreement is still in formulation phase and firstly will be presented to the Greek, and afterwards to the Macedonian government. If approved, it will be the basis for solving the problem, and it should get green light from the parliaments of both countries thus opening Macedonia’s road to NATO and EU.

This agreement will include all topics related to the name issue. Special chapter on irredentism, but also on topics related to the country’s future, its integration into international organisations and a positive agenda, how to further develop our relations, Kotzias said, explaining that the Greek side is still preparing a draft agreement, and he expects to be forwarded to the Macedonian government in the middle of February.

He confirmed that (UN) mediator presented five concrete proposals, four names in Macedonian language and one Macedonia (Skopje), while in regard to the Greek positions he said that in his opinion the name should be complex containing the term Macedonia, “not to be in English, to be in the language or languages of this country, without translation.” As examples of the international experience of such a formula, Kotzias mentioned Sri Lanka as a country with one, untranslated name, and Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan as states, whose names are complex words and employ the same suffix “stan.”

The first thing in the talks will be the name, the content of the name and adjective of the name, because the second element of the name will contain the term Macedonia as a geographical area. The second thing is whether the name will have one or two words. Thirdly whether it will be introduced in the language of the country or in the international language, and the fourth whether it will be translated or not, Kotzias said, MIA reports.

In regard to the name negotiations, Kotzias reiterated his position that the name includes seven issues: the name, use of the name, the identity, the language, trade use, acronyms and signs.

Kotzias explained that if Macedonian side backs the agreement, then it will have to be approved by the parliaments of both countries, in accordance with the constitutional provisions for approval of an international agreement.

Macedonian Constitution needs to be changed

Kotzias in the interview explained that Macedonia needs to make constitutional changes to any settlement agreement between the two countries, MIA reports. Asked about what should be changed in the Constitution, Kotzias cited the preamble and two Articles, without revealing further details.

Any agreement that will happen, if it is not accompanied by constitutional changes, or if you want to say, adjustments, it can later be changed by any new prime minister from another political party. The current government of this country will find itself in a difficult position if the Constitution does not change, and it concludes international agreements and the next government will tell them that they acted unconstitutionally, Kotzias said, adding that Zaev’s government at this moment has no two-thirds majority to change the Constitution, and the first thing to do is open the process for changes.

Greece wants a package of solution

We will not divide the problem into parts, Kotzias said, by which he indirectly rejected Nimetz’s proposal, published in the Greek media for the gradual solution of the issue.

Kotzias said that he wants full use of the solution, which, according to him, means changing the Macedonian passports and ID cards. He supported this position by examples from his experience as an academician and expert on globalization.

“When I became a minister, in order to explain to everyone, I always had an ID and a passport with me. And I always told them: What is the passport? international document. What is an ID card? internal document. What is an ID card in the EU? An international document, because it is in Latin alphabet. It is the dilemma that there are no classic internal documents like in the 19th century and there is a difference between them,” Kotzias explained in the interview.

No NATO membership without agreement

Kotzias did not want to speak about specific time-frames for a solution, and if an agreement is not reached until the NATO Summit, he said that Macedonia without an agreement will not join the North Atlantic Alliance.

NATO process is not that we want to get them into NATO, but they are seeking to be admitted to NATO. In the negotiations we use the fact that they want to become a NATO member, Kotzias said, while in relation to possible pressures from third parties, he underlined that he has sent a message to everyone, both to the EU, NATO, and to the US and Russia, not to interfere, because “the one that interferes is doing badly and does not want a solution to be found.”

Greece recognised the Macedonian language in 1997

Speaking about the derived words originating from the name, Kotzias told that the term “Macedonian language” was recognized by Greece in 1997 at the UN conference held in Athens.

“Do you know when the name “Macedonian language” is accepted in the UN? Do you know when the Greek side made the agreement for the first time for the language of this country to be called Macedonian? I’ll tell you. During the rule of Konstantinos Karamanlis in 1997. Do you know where this happened? It happened at a UN conference organised in Athens,” Kotzias told in the interview with Greece’s state broadcaster ERT, MIA reports.