The name issue agreement reached between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will benefit both sides, despite “systematic efforts” to dismiss its long-term importance, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Thursday evening, wrapping up a meeting reviewing the agreement’s legal aspects.
At the one-day meeting at the ministry, academics and lawyers weighed in on the agreement in four sessions, on the following topics: the historical and legal background of the agreement (known briefly as the Prespes Agreement); the agreement’s aspects relating to the definition of FYROM’s new agreed-upon name and the name’s usage; implementation issues relating to economic and cultural collaboration; and the resolution of outstanding issues between the two countries beyond the name, especially as relating to nationality and language. The law experts were also expected to clarify points that could facilitate public discussion.
In closing remarks, Kotzias thanked the professors from law schools throughout Greece for their opinions, but expressed objection to references that the agreement did not follow established policy. He said he did not consider it “scientifically honest to support there is lack of continuity in Greek policy and the agreement.”
He also criticized what he called “a systematic effort to minimize the extent and depth of the benefits” in the rapprochement between the two countries and said that the government “made an agreement in which both sides win through a compromise.” He added, “Without compromise, there are no international treaties.”
Among other things, Kotzias said that besides the change in FYROM’s name that would legally established for all uses, domestically and internationally (erga omnes), Greece will also benefit from the removal of the main issue of irredentism by the other side. One must recognize, he said, the importance of FYROM’s agreement to change its constitution, and in particular article 49 that relates to irredentism, in order to bring it more in line with that of the Greek constitution on overseas Greeks.
“In our country there are two kinds of policies,” Kotzias said, “one where problems exist and are recycled, or created where they don’t exist, and another, which seeks solutions. Our policy is to resolve problems.”