Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev made a provocative statement on Wednesday speaking of the “Macedonian Army” that will join NATO.
The statement, made during a swearing-in ceremony of FYROM soldiers, goes against the Greece-FYROM Prespa agreement according to which the Balkan country will be called North Macedonia, if the parliaments of both countries ratify the agreement.
“Being a member of the Alliance will create greater opportunities for you,” Zaev said, addressing the troops. “The Macedonian Army, for years, has operated hand-in-hand with NATO troops in peacekeeping missions, for which it has been highly rated. Participation in these missions helped the Macedonian Army to increase its capabilities. The defense ministry and the Macedonian government are working hard to rebuild the dignity of your profession after major deadlocks and reforms.”
Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that the correct terms used should have been the “Army of North Macedonia”. The statement also says that the Prespa Agreement should be put into effect as soon as possible so that Greece’s Balkan neighbor starts using the official name “North Macedonia”.
Opposition slams government over name agreement
Greece’s main opposition party New Democracy slammed the government, saying that FYROM was disregarding the deal and continues to use the term “Macedonia”, both at home and abroad.
“With just one statement, Zaev has provoked Greece and demolished the arguments and propaganda of Tsipras-Kotzias and humiliates Panos Kammenos,” ND spokesperson Giorgos Koumoutsakos said, criticizing the Greek prime minister, the foreign minister and the defense minister. The New Democracy MP added that the conservative party has been right all along in opposing the name deal.
FYROM parliament ratifies deal (again)
FYROM’s parliament has ratified the deal with Greece for the second time in two weeks, after the country’s president temporarily blocked the agreement.
A total of 69 lawmakers in the 120-strong parliament approved the deal, under which the country would be renamed “North Macedonia.”
President Gjorge Ivanov – who says the agreement is unconstitutional – refused to sign off on it. Under FYROM’s constitution, Ivanov can no longer block it after lawmakers ratify it for a second time.