Mitsotakis says government is wrong to pursue solution to FYROM issue now

The government is wrong to pursue a solution to the name dispute with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) now, as the neighbouring country has not provided tangible evidence that is forsaking its irredentist claims, New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday, during a speech at ND’s political committee.

Describing what he would do if he was in charge of the ongoing negotiations with Skopje, he said he would start talks from the issues of irredentism.

“I wouldn’t negotiate anything if Skopje didn’t commit to changing their Constitution. I wouldn’t tolerate any mention of ‘Macedonian nation’, as Mr. [UN Envoy Matthew] Nimetz made without getting any response from the government,” he said.

“Mr. Tsipras is meeting Mr. [FYROM PM Zoran] Zaev. Even if some solution was reached, in this climate it would create more problems domestically than it would solve abroad. I will not accept dividing Greeks to unite the Skopjans […] The solution will have to be pursued at a different time and after the other side has proven that it wants a real solution that will lead to a harmonious coexistence of the two peoples. Unless some people are determined to relinquish national interests to keep their position,” he added.

Mitsotakis then accused Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of mishandling the negotiations, saying he started talks without first presenting a unified position on the name, which was done “to facilitate his government coalition partner, Mr. [Panos] Kammenos, who keeps changing position”.

He also criticized the government for starting talks without briefing the opposition parties or the people, noting it is negotiating “in secret”.