Sunday, 24 October 2021 | News today: 0

Tsipras defends his Macedonia name deal with Zaev in a high profile speech in Solun

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras defended the deal on Macedonia he signed with Zoran Zaev in a high profile speech he gave in Solun (Thessaloniki), which is the center of opposition to Macedonian independence and sovereignty.

– The Prespa treaty puts an end to the falsification of our history. It definitely and irrevocably ends to the demeaning claims on the ancient Greek Macedonia, Tsipras told his supporters. He also promoted an idea of a non-nationalist, diverse Solun and Greece, saying that the port city has seen “harmonious co-existence between different cultures and traditions”. Greek nationalists, who see the northern parts of their country as one of their strongholds, insist on the homogenous character of Greece and deny the existence of the Macedonian or other ethnic minorities in the region, while Tsipras would acknowledge the existence of the minority, but insists it should not be called Macedonian.

– We will not allow Thessaloniki to become the center of extreme right and of hatred, because Thessaloniki, Macedonia and Greece are not going to go back, he added.

Before the rally there was a false bomb threat in the hall where Tsipras was speaking, while police clashed with nationalist rioters. Some of them painted swastikas at the monument to the large Sephardic Jewish community of Solun which was largely exterminated in the Holocaust.

Much of Tsipras’ speech was aimed against the conservative New Democracy party, which opposes the Prespa treaty and leads Tsipras in the polls ahead of the elections expected some time next year.

– Politicians who plundered out country and brought it to the brink of bankruptcy now pretend they are patriots and go hand in hand with the Golden Dawn neo-Nazis. They took bribes from Siemens and Novartis but now say that we on the left are traitors, Tsipras said.

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis also gave a speech on Friday evening, in Athens, where he repeated the party position to reject the treaty with which Greece would allow Macedonia to enter NATO and begin EU accession talks, in exchange for a name change into North Macedonia and wide Greek oversight rights over Macedonian educations, history books and public discourse.

– Six Prime Ministers before him said no to the recognition of a Macedonian nation and language, and now Tsipras says yes, Mitsotakis added.