On the third anniversary of the signing of the Prespa Agreement on June 17, ELIAMEP’s South – East Europe Programme in collaboration with the Institute for Democracy ‘Societas Civilis’ in Skopje and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Greece and Cyprus co-published a joint survey in both Greece and North Macedonia entitled: “The Prospects of the Prespa Agreement: Public Opinion in North Macedonia and Greece”.
In Greece, the survey was conducted as well as the report on the key findings was written by Ioannis Armakolas, Assistant Professor at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, Dr. George Siakas Research Director at Public Opinion Research Unit UoM.
Three years after the signing of the Prespa Agreement and while bilateral contacts between the two governments have been increased, despite difficulties in its implementation, the public attitudes for the Agreement in both countries is of a special interest.
One of the key findings of both surveys has been that the Prespa Agreement remains a sensitive issue for both sides of the borders, though some have already begun to approach it more realistically. The overall dismissive attitude towards the Agreement -while it remains significant -is already weakened.
In the case of the citizens in North Macedonia of a special interest are their responses vis a vis the consequences of the recent stalemate regarding the beginning of the country’s EU accession talks in relation with the Prespa Agreement. Additionally, key findings are quite interesting for many aspects of the Agreement, since these differ demographically in North Macedonia.
In Greece, the majority considers the Agreement a painful but necessary compromise, but still more respondents consider that the agreement undermines national interest (‘εθνικά επιζήμια συμφωνία’) than the opposite. An interesting finding is that a majority of 53,3% of the respondents concede that without the Prespa Agreement practically everybody would call North Macedonia as simply Macedonia, while a notable 33% of the respondents acknowledge that both countries were right on the dispute. Another noteworthy finding is that -even though the new government has accepted the necessity of the implementation of the Agreement -the arguments that it has used against it, when in opposition, seem to have had a major effect on the way the agreement is still assessed by the citizens.
You may read the report here (in Greek).