In a speech that was much awaited in order to clear up New Democracy’s stance on the FYROM name issue, Kyriakios Mitsotakis made a bombshell statement that now is not the time to resolve the Athens-Skopje dispute, which has festered for a quarter century.
“Mr. Tsipras is due to meet shortly with [FYROM Prime Minister Zoran] Zaev. I shall not tolerate us dividing Greeks in order to unite Skopjans [citizens of FYROM], and I shall not accept a rupture in [the Greek province of] Macedonia’s ties with the rest of Greece. Nor shall I allow various extremist elements to exploit the reasonable concerns of the people,” Mitsotakis declared in stentorian voice.
“As things have turned out, a solution must be sought at some other time,” he declared.
The speech to his party’s political committee resembled an electoral rallying cry, as Mitsotakis called on fellow conservatives to topple the government, whose members he described as “liars and vicious people who have since 2015 dominated the country with authoritarianism in order to build a regime”.
Mitsotakis accused Tsipras and coalition partner Panos Kammenos of undermining prospects of a FYROM settlement by not hammering out a national position.
He said that the prime minister has not presented a national position, and accused SYRIZA of undermining the Karamanlis government’s efforts to reach a settlement.
He charged that Finance Minister Euclid Tskalotos, Education Minister Kostas Gavroglu and the Prime Minister’s political planning chief Nikos Karanikas at that time had signed a text calling for FYROM to be recognised by its constitutional name, Republic of Macedonia.
“No lessons to us from those who undermined our [ND] negotiation battle at that time,” he said.
Still Mitsotakis outlined the elements that he would like to see in a settlement, including a constitutional revision in FYROM that will remove irredentist references to sovereign Greek territory.
“The Skopjans should amend their constitution. I would accept no reference to a Macedonian nationality, such as that made by Mr. Nimetz [the UN mediator on the naming issue]