Greece Highlights Conditions for North Macedonian, Albanian EU talks



Greek PM Mitsotakis meets with his North Macedonian counterpart Zaev in Thessaloniki on Thursday

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday expressed his government’s support for the EU aspirations of North Macedonia and Albania, but added that the two countries must fully respect international agreements as well as the rights of ethnic groups.

Addressing an audience which included North Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev and Bulgarian PM  Boyko Borissov at the Thessaloniki Summit 2019, a business event organized by the Federation of Industries of Greece, Mitsotakis used the Greek saying: “Good accounts make for good friends.”

As Mitsotakis clarified, he wanted to be honest and convey to the two neighboring countries that the path to European Union accession includes much-needed reforms which must be made.

He noted that “Albania should carry out an unimpeded and objective census, absolutely respecting the right to self-determination of the Greek ethnic minority, and guarantee in practice their assets and rights, avoiding actions that undermine the rules of good neighborliness and rhetorical questions about non-existent issues.”

Mitsotakis added that on Wednesday, he had met with representatives from Albania’s Greek ethnic minority in Athens and had been briefed directly about their problems.

At an earlier, private meeting with his North Macedonian counterpart, the Greek premier underlined the importance of the so-called Prespa Accord being honored if North Macedonia is to achieve its aim of beginning accession talks with the European Union.

“I want to be clear, again: We have to mitigate several negative repercussions of an agreement already signed,” Mitsotakis stated, adding that this must be “done with realism and maturity.”

Speaking about an earlier presentation of the impressive new official logo for products from the northern Greek region, Mitsotakis said “Greece has placed a priority on protecting the name and fame of Macedonia and its products.”

The Greek PM further explained that Macedonian producers faced unfair trade practices in international markets by competitors who illegally used the protected geographical designation of “Macedonia” by promoting the label “Wines of Macedonia.”

This “faux pas,” as he called it, must be resolved immediately in the context of the best implementation of the Prespes Agreement, and the new official logo for Macedonia presented the Greek side’s response to that pressing issue.