Verbal note sent to Skopje notifying Greece’s successful ratification of NATO accession protocol
A note verbale will be sent to Skopje from Athens on Monday, informing Greece’s northern neighbour that the Hellenic Parliament has ratified the Prespes Agreement and the NATO accession protocol. Both documents were necessary to be ratified before the neighbour state proceeds with accession to the Alliance as North Macedonia. Deputy Foreign Minister George Katrougalos revealed in an interview published on Sunday that the use of the name “North Macedonia” for the country will be obligatory.
“The Prespes Agreement is explicit and clear on this point. At all international fora, at all international organisations, in bilateral relations and in the interior of the country, for example in all new documents, the neighbouring country will be referred to with the new constitutional name,” the Deputy Minister argued.
Minister Katrougalos also talked about the prime minister’s recent visit to Turkey, noting that all its objective goals had been achieved in terms of reducing tension in the Aegean and resuming systematic dialogue with Turkey. The Deputy Minister reinstated his hopes regarding a progressive reduction of Turkish provocativeness in the Aegean Sea, noting that the number of violations during the previous week had been the lowest on record for many years. Notably, zero airspace violations were recorded in the two days after the Greek Prime Minister’s visit to Turkey.
Talking about Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to the Halki Theological School, the minister noted that “the presence of the prime minister, in itself, but especially his speech and that of the Ecumenical Patriarch, had a special symbolism” and left an important legacy in terms of the school’s reopening in the future. With a reopening of the School, Deputy Minister Katrougalos noted, the world will witness that “Islam and Christianity can coexist peacefully, uniting rather than dividing peoples.”
The Deputy Minister said that the Greece-Turkey High-level Cooperation Council and the Greek-Turkish Economic Forum in Thessaloniki will be key elements in efforts for a resumption of dialogue between the two countries, possibly during the first half of the current year, while describing a Thessaloniki-Izmir ferry link in the summer as a “realistic prospect”.
A start on resuming talks is expected to be made next week, Minster Katrougalos noted, when the Greek and Turkish defence ministers will meet on the sidelines of a NATO meeting.
On the Cyprus problem, he said the Greek side’s aim was to exploit the progress made in Crans Montana, especially with regard to security issues and the abolition of third-party guarantees.