Amidst the first real prospect in years of Athens resolving the name dispute with Skopje under the moderate government of Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ coalition partner and defense minister, Panos Kammenos, has already rejected the only realistic prospect for a solution, a composite name with a marker, geographic or otherwise, before the word Macedonia.
“I assure you that I shall never consent to any use of the Greek name Macedonia by Skopje,” Kammenos told a gathering in Thessaloniki, a few days before the two countries’ envoys are to meet for a fresh round of name talks.
Both sides are facing heightened international pressure, most significantly from the US, to resolve the matter so as to open the way for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to be admitted to NATO and the European Union.
The dispute between the ruling coalition partners does not mean that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cannot pass a composite name through parliament, as main opposition New Democracy, the centre-left Democratic Alliance, and To Potami would almost certainly vote for a composite name in the framework of a just and balanced compromise.
Athens has for years vowed to block FYROM’s accession to the Euro-Atlantic organizations of which Greece is a member, and which require unanimity in deciding the admission of new members. The most famous example is then prime minister Costas Karamanlis’ “veto”, or withholding Greek consent for FYROM’s NATO membership at the alliance’s 2008 summit.
“The Macedonia name issue is linked to the decision of the conference of party leaders under the late president Constantine Karamanlis. At the time, the political leaders decided against any use of the term Macedonia [by Skopje]. Any other decision requires the president to convene the council of party leaders,” Kammenos said, during a ceremony for the unveiling of military structures.
“As for me, in my capacity not as defense minister but as a party leader, I assure you that I shall never consent to any use of the word Macedonia in naming Skopje,” Kammenos declared.