In an exclusive interview with reporter Elli Stai on Open TV, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that he takes pride in the signing of the Prespes Agreement, an issue that had been a burden for Greece’s role in the wider Balkan region by remaining unresolved for the past 27 years.
The [Prespes] Agreement leaves no room for future nationalist leaders in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM),” Mr Tsipras stated, adding that “Greece gains nothing by keeping an open front with the neighbouring country, and by wasting diplomatic capital”.
The Greek PM highlighted his administration’s success in comparison to the inaction of previous governments not just in terms of the ‘Macedonia’ name dispute but also the successful completion of the loan adjustment programme.
“The exit from the crisis is the greatest achievement of this government’s tenure,” Tsipras said; “Upgrading Greece’s role is the second most important one.”
On the same note, Germany also hails the Prespes Agreement as a great historic opportunity to not only settle the long-standing name issue between Greece and FYROM, but as a way to generate more opportunities in the region.
“Our contacts and discussions with the Greek government are intensive and frequent,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told journalists during a press briefing, adding that “we have the chance to meet on various occasions but it is good that the Chancellor will again visit Athens.”
Mr Seibert reaffirmed Germany’s support on the Prespes Agreement, stressing the importance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Athens set to take place later today.
“[The Chancellor] will hold meetings with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras; Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos and main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis; with the presence of several officials from different sectors,” he said, explaining that Germany backing the Prespes Accord should not have any implications with Greece’s internal politics.
While most of the world regards the agreement between Greece and FYROM as a positive development in the area, the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government has received much backlash, from Greece’s main opposition party New Democracy (ND).
Amidst speculation of an imminent government breakup, on the grounds of coalition partner Independent Greeks, disagreeing with the Prespes Accord and ND pushing Mr Tsipras to seek a confidence vote, the PM told the media that he does not believe ANEL leaderMr Panos Kammenos will “pour more water on the mill and facilitate the plans of our political opponents”.
“Even if you haven’t got 151 lawmakers, you have no problem by the Constitution in carrying on,” Tsipras said, adding, however, that we would have a “political problem.”
“In such an eventuality, I will proceed in due time with snap elections, whose timing will depend on the crucial initiatives we have said we will implement. But I’m saying that there is no such thing as an impasse in democracy. I believe I will secure a confidence vote,” Mr Tsipras added.
When asked about an imminent ratification of the deal by the Greek government after FYROM amends its constitution, the Greek PM said that “the country will become an international laughing stock”, if Greece refuses to follow up on its promise.