In an interview for Athina 9.84 FM on the 3rd anniversary of the signing of the Prespa Agreement, George Christidis, Research Fellow on ELIAMEP’s SE Europe Programme, stressed that: “The Prespa Agreement offers a significant way forward for bilateral relations, not only for their normalisation, but also for their development. Personally, I consider the Agreement to be the biggest diplomatic success for Greek foreign policy since the 1990s. This Agreement is highly advantageous to Greece, as it does not have another major item on its agenda while it has to deal with its problems with Turkey. It also offers an opportunity not only to improve relations with North Macedonia, but also to bolster its geopolitical position in the Balkans.”
He also commented on the reasons why the Agreement still divides the societies of the two countries, which is one of the key points of the joint survey “The Prospects of the Prespa Agreement: Public Opinion in Northern Macedonia and Greece” co-published by ELIAMEP, the Institute for Democracy ‘Societas Civilis’ in Skopje, and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Foundation.
“What has happened with the Prespa Agreement was the outcome of a decision made by Zaev’s leadership, which is to say of a small group. Society at large was firmly against changing the name constitutionally, and this remained a common political position, even among the Social Democrats, for many years. This change was brought about by Zaev and his leading group. meaning that the change introduced by the Agreement was not a mature decision taken with the involvement of society, but rather a political choice made by Zaev himself. This makes it harder for society, for whom the name change is more visible—on official documents, for instance–to accept it. The sacrifice made in changing the country’s constitutional name is connected to the country’s Euro Atlantic course, the first element of which is stuck due to problems relating to Bulgaria. However, unavoidably, this has been linked with the Prespa Agreement and the resentment against it,” he notes.
You can listen to the interview, in Greek, here (10:06’).