Today’s meeting in New York between the UN special representative on the FYROM naming issue, Matthew Nimetz, and the negotiators for Athens and Skopje is the starting point for a new, and perhaps final, effort to resolve at long last the issue of Greece-FYROM relations.
It is an open wound that has festered, without much room for maintaining it in perpetuity.
In the 25 years that have passed, much seems to have changed, both in FYROM and in Greece.
We hope the conditions are right to put an end to futile super-patriotism.
There is an opportunity to finally transcend irredentist tendencies and national hysteria.
In 1992, in conditions of frenzy, eight politicians and academics issued a joint statement in an effort to tame passions and for logic to prevail.
The statement – signed by former prime minister Georgios Rallis, left-wing leader Leonidas Kyrkos, Professors Xenophon Zolotas, Angelos Angelopoulos, Konstantinos Despotopoulos, and Yorgos Kontogiorgis, as well as Th. Kourousopoulos, and Eleni Glykatzi-Ahrweiler – called on everyone to understand that an issue of national import must not become caught up in partisan bickering and rhetorical grandstanding.
Their voices were not heeded, and so the issue was transformed into a field for the expression of political ulterior motives, and it bedevils us to this day.
Yet, it appears that even today some people – and first of all the junior partner in the ruling coalition, Panos Kammenos – still have the same mentality. They play petty partisan and personal political games, cultivating nationalist outbursts.
But even in main opposition New Democracy, there appear to be politicians with extreme views, which in the name of clashing with Syriza or promoting their own personal agendas, are attempting through leaks to stir a climate of tension and confrontation.
It is high time, after a quarter century, to close this chapter.
If the other side means what its current leadership says, and if it is truly prepared to accept a compound name and abandon irredentist aspirations, it would be tragic if certain politicians for reasons of self-interest were to undermine and scuttle an agreement.
They will have to answer to history and to the Greek citizens, who at some point entrusted their fate to them.