In principle, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is right in stressing, in his letter to Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, that: “On issues of national import, the broadest possible national unity is required. National unity is grounded in prudence, in dialogue, in respect for differing views, and in respect for the discrete roles [of church and state].”
It should be equally self-evident that the national strategy is undermined by shrieks, intolerance, and extremities, for which we have paid so dearly, both in the distant and recent past.
This is true as long as declarations are not only on paper, or in letters, but also in daily political action.
The stance of the government regarding the ongoing negotiations on the Macedonian naming issue, however, has nothing to do with Mr. Tsipras’ proclamations.
Secret meetings, such as the one yesterday between Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his counterpart Nikola Dimitrov, where even the meeting place was not revealed, and without any briefing of opposition parties, belie Mr. Tsipras’ rhetoric.
On the contrary, the only issue that appears to concern the government is how it will divide and create fissures in opposition parties so as to transcend both its own intra-party divisions, and the extremist rhetoric of his junior coalition partner,
The government has not displayed any interest in dialogue.
Petty partisan motives have prevailed on an issue that everyone knows has left deep scars on Greek society and on the entire political system.
As for respect for differing positions, it is best that we leave that aside, as one still remembers the hysterical accusations of national treachery in the past.
There is no longer any room for petty partisan, opportunistic games.
If, yet again, this opportunity to settle the issue of how our neighbouring country will be named is lost, it is certain that there will not be another.
When dozens of countries have already recognised the country by its constitutional name, there is no longer any room for grand pronouncements and easy patriotic salvos.
The government bears the absolute responsibility to conduct negotiations and assume the initiative on this matter.
Let it, then, set aside opportunistic motivations for a while, and try to create the necessary framework for a national understanding in practice, and not just in letters.