The Prespes Agreement was ratified by the Greek parliament on Friday with a majority of 153 votes, with 146 voting against and one deputy abstaining with a vote of ‘present’.
Votes for the agreement were cast by ruling SYRIZA’s parliamentary group of 145 MPs, as well as the MPs Elena Kountoura, Katerina Papakosta, Thanassis Papachristopoulos, Stavros Theodorakis, Spyros Lykoudis, Giorgos Mavrotas, Thanassis Theocharopoulos and Spyros Danellis.
Votes against were cast by main opposition New Democracy, Democratic Alliance, Communist Party of Greece, Independent Greeks, Centrists’ Union and independents. The MP Grigoris Psarianos abstained, casting a vote of ‘present’.
Vassilis Kokkalis, who is a member of the government, voted against the agreement.
The foreign ministry’s draft bill for the ratification of the agreement was passed in a roll-call vote requested by Parliament President Nikos Voutsis. The vote was held after three days of discussion in the plenary and two in the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs and National Defence in order to allow all MPs to address the house. According to Voutsis, the discussion lasted 38.5 hours with addresses by a total of 200 MPs, including political party leaders etc.
“Today is a historic day. Greece is protecting an important part of its history, the heritage of ancient Greek Macedonia,” stated Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after the ratification of the Prespes Agreement by the Greek parliament on Friday.
PM Tsipras: North Macedonia is a friendly country
In a statement on his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, the Greek prime minister said:
“Today we write a new page for the Balkans. The hatred of nationalisms, conflicts and arguments give their place to friendship, peace and cooperation,” underlined Tsipras, noting that “the next generations in both countries will owe a debt of gratitude to the deputies who, with courage and daring, laid the foundations for a future of peace, solidarity and harmonious co-existence between the two peoples.”
Tsipras noted that “North Macedonia, which was born today, will be a friendly country. An ally and supporter of Greece in its efforts for safety, stability and joint development in the region”.
ND leader Mitsotakis: Today is a sad day for Greece
“Today is difficult, a sad day for Greece,” main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday after the ratification of the Prespes Agreement by the Greek parliament.
“The government, with an opportunist majority, voted for the harmful Prespes Agreement. Its ratification means the official recognition of the Macedonian language and identity for the residents of [Greece’s northern neighbour] for the first time by a Greek government, so the 10-year national line is abandoned. Tsipras said ‘yes’ where all his predecessors said ‘no’. Only he knows the reasons,” Mitsotakis said.
ND’s leader predicted that this would mark the start of “new ills” and that SYRIZA’s four-year sojourn in power, “was completing its disastrous passage with a national concession.”
New Democracy, he added, “presented the truth about the national issue and the true face of each party and each deputy. Personally, I spoke with sincerity about the great difficulties that are coming with the implementation of the Agreement. I made a commitment, however, to firmly adhere to national duty: I will not give up Greece’s right to veto Skopje’s accession to the EU, I will fight will all my strength to lessen the negative repercussions that are certain to result from a problematic agreement.”