Anger Over “Macedonian Language” in Greek Schools



FYROM premier Zaev (L) with his Greek counterpart Alex Tsipras. (R). File photo

Greece angrily responded to a statement allegedly made by Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Zoran Zaev that in the future the “Macedonian language” will be taught in Greek schools. The premier was believed to have made the remarks on Sunday.

Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos warned on Tuesday that Athens “will not in any way accept arbitrary — and far more irredentist — interpretations of the Prespa Agreement on the part of FYROM.”

Media sources in Greece suggest that the government is ready to send a letter of protest to Skopje if there is no clarification on what has been said. A telephone call between Tsipras and Zaev may be considered in order for Greece to lodge a protest against the remarks.

Matthew Nimietz, the U.N. Special Representative for the naming dispute between Greece and FYROM, reportedly telephoned officials in Skopje to express his concerns about the remarks made by Zaev.

According to reports by FYROM news media, Zaev spoke with lawmakers in Skopje on Sunday. During his conversation, he stated that nothing has been done for the “Macedonians of the Aegean” since the independence of his country, established 27 years ago.

Zaev allegedly added that under the new agreement, the “Macedonian” language could be taught in Greek schools.

The leader of the Greek opposition party, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, agreed with the stance taken by the Greek government, saying that Zaev’s comments are “unacceptable.” He added that the Prespa agreement, in “recognizing the so-called Macedonian language and ethnicity, opens Pandora’s box and revives all the scandalous claims of Skopje.”

On Monday, Greece’s Alternate Foreign Minister George Katrougalos said at a briefing of diplomatic correspondents that Athens has not confirmed the precise wording of Zaev’s assertion. He emphasized however, that Article 7 of the agreement specifically records the country’s language as a Slavic language.

He added that the last paragraph of Article 7 stipulates that Greece may continue to refer to the language as Slavo-Macedonian, which is what it is, he noted.

Katrougalos declared that the FYROM naming accord guarantees Greek sovereignty and forbids FYROM’s intervention in all Greek affairs.