Mitsotakis: Prespes Agreement ‘a national defeat and mistake’

The Prespes Agreement should not have been signed, nor should it have come to the Hellenic Parliament for ratification, main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday, addressing Greek lawmakers.

Mitsotakis referred to the agreement as a “national defeat and a national mistake,” which is an offence to the truth and the history of the country.”

He added that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has already violated a fundamental term of the agreement, namely the obligation to revise its constitution before the Greek parliament is asked to vote for its ratification. This did not happen, he asserted, as in that case FYROM would have already changed its name to “North Macedonia”. On the contrary, he continued, the note verbale that arrived from FYROM still referred to the country as the “Republic of Macedonia”, while the text itself still invoked a ‘Macedonian people’.

Mitsotakis then accused the now defunct SYRIZA-Independent Greeks (ANEL) coalition of signing the Prespes Agreement hastily, and insisted that the leader of ANEL Panos Kammenos is equally responsible for the Prespes result because he did not side with ND in the motion of censure it had tabled in July.

Therefore, he continued, SYRIZA and ANEL have given the go-ahead for FYROM to monopolise the Macedonian identity, as the government granted the neighbouring country the recognition of a Macedonian language, ethnicity and identity.

Mitsotakis then said that the Agreement recognises the citizens of FYROM as “Macedonians”. This is what will appear on their passports, he said, and this is what we too will be obliged to call them. On the contrary, Mitsotakis continued, the Prespes Agreement never mentions the term “Macedonia” in relation to Greece.

He then accused the government of sending a letter to NATO on July 22, 2018 that suspended the agreements reached in 2008 in Bucharest on the issue, without prior consultation with either the parliament or the Greek people.

Looking forward, Mitsotakis said that if his party wins the next election, he will not accept interpretations that link the Prespes Agreement and the process for FYROM’s accession to the EU, but instead will choose to reserve all the rights accorded to Greece by virtue of being an EU member state.

Furthermore, Mitsotakis told the Greek parliament that he has informed his allies at the European People’s Party about his party’s position, and has not hesitated to put the country’s national interest first and openly disagree with powerful partners, such as Angela Merkel.

“This is a crucial moment in Greece’s parliamentary history,” he went on to say, and stressed that “once the agreement is ratified there is no way of cancelling this, since it supersedes any law.” Any attempt to amend was difficult under international law, Mitsotakis explained, while to violate its terms would lead to international isolation and bring Greece before the International Court.

Summing up, Mitsotakis called on members of parliament to vote ‘no’ during the roll-call vote and not ratify an agreement, “which, mark my words, we will find ourselves up against in the future.”