FYROM’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is believed by some to be purposely delaying the completion of Skopje’s part of the FYROM-Greece accord, in order to serve the electoral plans of the Greek government.
In that sense, he appears to be vindicating Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, who said that it will take a long time for the Greek parliament to ratify the agreement, so he may have no reason to topple the government, as he threatened to do if the accord comes to a vote.
In an interview with ERT Greek state television, Zaev said that the referendum on the agreement will be held either in September or October.
However, he noted that the result of the referendum will be ratified by the parliament in Skopje in January.
That means the agreement will be tabled for ratification by the Greek parliament much later, and may coincide with the pre-election period. If rumours of elections in the fall are verified, then the ratification of the agreement will have to be undertaken by the next parliament.
Article 1 of the agreement provides for the procedures that each of the two sides must complete in order for the accord to be ratified and put into effect. There is no provision for a second tabling of the accord in the FYROM parliament, as ratification was completed with the second ratification vote, after the veto of FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov.
Zaev may mean that he will table in parliament the constitutional changes that the accord mandates, which he currently does not have the votes to pass.
The agreement provides that there will be a referendum in FYROM, that the procedures for the constitutional amendments will begin and that the constitutional revision will be completed by the end of 2018.
When that entire process is completed, Greece will then ratify the agreement without delay.
The delay in ratification of the referendum that Zaev mentioned will also affect the timing of the ratification by the Greek parliament, which is the final step that will put the accord into effect.
That, in turn, could influence the timing of general elections in Greece.
The question is whether the delay will give the SYRIZA –Independent Greeks government a lease on life, or whether it will serve to expedite the calling of elections.
At the same time, even before its ratification, the agreement will have produced legal effects, such as Nato’s conditional invitation for FYROM to join the alliance.