Last chance to force Skopje into implementing Prespa Agreement!

Ω Alexandros Tarkas
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Last chance to force Skopje to implement Prespa Agreement, Alexandros Tarkas

The Speaker of Parliament, Konstantinos Tassoulas, in an attempt at intra-party acrobatics, or even an attempt distort the truth, unofficially commented that "there is nothing urgent" and that the government was more interested in submitting the memoranda and less in their rapid ratification. The diplomatic reality, however, is different.

The unequivocal assurances of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to his counterpart Zoran Zaev of "Northern Macedonia", and Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis to Vice President Nikola Dimitrov, stressed that, especially the memorandum for accession to the EU would proceed quickly. Under the ratified memorandum, a special joint committee would meet in Skopje by mid-November at the latest to support the neighboring country's contacts with the Commission's political leadership and the demanding bureaucrats of its Directorates-General.

But the real problem is not in the three memoranda. It is (and lurks against Greek interests in the Balkans) elsewhere! Greek diplomacy and those ND MPs who unite under the proding of Kyriakos Mitsotakis to return to the right path, can not deal (only) with the minor issue of memoranda, but it is better to focus on the major issue of the faithful implementation of the Prespa Agreement .

The margins for veto are narrowing

This, in any case, is a bad agreement for the Greek side, which Zoran Zaev and Nikola Dimitrov, despite their disagreements, are quick - even this bad for Greece agreement - either to bluntly violate or to obstruct many of its provisions. The few weeks left until the approval of the EU-North Macedonia negotiation framework in Brussels are perhaps the last chance for Athens to demand, on the one hand, a faithful implementation of Prespa, and on the other, to demand and get new (of course) commitments from Skopje on a number of related issues.

If this landmark passes, unexploited by the Greek side, it will not be realistic to threaten a "veto on every negotiating chapter", as Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised in the run-up to the elections. Nor, of course, will the dissident MPs of ND be able to impose their point of view on the PM.

Many honorable and active Greek diplomats emphasize that the former mayor of Strumica (the slavic name) and current Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is not moved or influenced by meals in hotels in Syntagma Square, or dinners in restaurants on Xenokratous Street that he was treated to during his stay in Athens a fortnight ago.

He better understands the discreet pressure and the polite reminder of the deadlines he has ahead of him, until the end of October or at the latest in November, when his country will begin negotiations to adapt to the terms of the Commission.

Athens must push for the obvious

Athens could, quite simply, be reserved for the timing of convening the relevant committees within the EU and in particular for sending an invitation to Skopje to start negotiations. Such a Greek attitude would even be characterized as "productive" compared to what it is doing, currently, and in order to secure its own interests, Bulgaria, launching barbs against Zoran Zaev and threatening with a veto any contact with Brussels.

Apart from Sofia's stance, another element of Zoran Zaev's greatest concern is the possibility of a delay in the consideration of its demands by Brussels, because they are treated as a "package" with Albania's accession bid. The stalemate with troubled and corrupt Tirana could trap Skopje as well, as Zaev's demand for the decoupling of the two candidacies usually falls on deaf ears, despite his occasional support from several EU members and the US .

Time is running out at the expense of Greek interests. If the Mitsotakis government does not have the will and the power to persuade Skopje now on outstanding issues, such as pseudo-Macedonian names, brands and names, as well as textbooks, then no one abroad (and in Skopje) will take it seriously. veto warnings at a later stage.

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