As hard as the government may try to downgrade the size of the FYROM demonstration, reality cannot be concealed. A significant segment of society is especially charged, emotionally and symbolically, with everything linked with this issue.
The citizens who assembled obviously had the right to demonstrate their opposition, essentially with any type of negotiation, ignoring diplomatic and political parameters, and the broader interest of the country in the final analysis.
A large segment of public opinion during the years of the crisis has developed an isolationism, a negative stance towards the country’s traditional allies, while at the same time there is a logic of conspiracy theories and victimisation. They feel betrayed by our European partners and by the political system, and as a result they express views and positions that do not correspond with reality.
Citizens are not, however, responsible for handling national issues. That is the job of the political leadership, which is obliged to take into account currents in public opinion without being subjected to them, when they clash with the country’s broader interests.
Whether we like it or not, nearly the entirety of the political establishment has for years approved the solution of a composite name for FYROM, so as not to end up with a worse result.
The complete refusal to accept use of the name Macedonia, which the Athens protest expressed, may be explained by the emotional charge of the participants, but it offers no solution for the problem that we face.
We have bitter experience with intransigent positions and tactics that emerged when our leaders subjugated themselves to the demands of an explosively charged public opinion.
Ignorance regarding international balances and of the course of history were never good counsel. It is in Greece’s interests for her northern neighbor to become a normal country, which will accede to international organisations that can guarantee its security and stability, on condition that they will abandon all manner of irredentism and the rewriting of history.
Instead of focusing on the size of the demonstration, the government has a duty to explain with clarity and responsibility both our positions and what is mandated by the broader national interest.