Opposing agreement with FYROM, but not tearing it down if it passes, says Mitsotakis
New Democracy will not ratify the name issue agreement between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the main opposition’s leader said in an interview to Politico, but will not tear it down later if it passes.
In an interview to Politico subtitled “Tsipras’ Win, Mitsotakis’ Problem,” editor Florian Eder wrote, “Not only did Greek Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras recently wear a tie for the first time in years (he had, err, tied his style choices to his country exiting the European bailout program), he also secured permission to freeze a planned VAT hike on some Greek islands. That, plus his role in resolving the name dispute with the future “Northern Macedonia”, secured him respect and even gratitude among EU leaders at last week’s summit. Hard times for Greece’s opposition leader, who, despite a lead in the polls, can’t be happy with Tsipras’ string of political wins ? and he isn’t.”
In his objections to the Eurogroup deal in June that paves the way for Greece to exit the bailout program in August, Mitsotakis said it was not “as good as it looks from the outside,” but he added that “any deal on the debt is better than no deal.” He said that Greece should never have been in this place to begin with, and he criticised the deal as “another program in disguise” that limits Greece’s degree of freedom. The spreads have not really changed, he said, indicating that the markets do not trust Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Asked if ND would renegotiate post-program conditions, Mitsotakis said his first priority would be to restore the country’s credibility. “What I want [is] to convince creditors and markets that we’re here to implement reforms, not because they were imposed on us but because we believe in them. Once we do that I think there might be room in the future to discuss fiscal targets. But it won’t be my number one priority,” he said.
In terms of the message the European People’s Party should have ahead of the 2019 European elections, the main opposition leader focused on populism as promoted by the current government, and said, “We have to have a message that resonates with the people who currently listen to the populists and have been deceived by them ? It invariably ends in tears. It hasn’t been a success in Greece, no matter how you look at this. It cost us a fortune.”
On the FYROM deal, Mitsotakis said that his opposition related to the fact the the deal recognizes the existence of a Macedonian ethnicity and language. “This, frankly, is not acceptable to the overwhelming majority of the Greek people,” he told Politico, to add, “If you accept a North Macedonian state but a Macedonian language, and ethnicity, what do you tell the people who are Macedonians but are Greek?”
In the economy, for example, “What happens with the hundreds of Greek companies that use a ‘Macedonian’ trademark? It’s a big issue for Greek companies, for exporters, that the current deal does not address,” he said.