The Greek former Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias shocked the audience said during his open discussion at the Delphi Economic Forum with Professor of Strategic and International Relations at Piraeus University, Athanasios Platias, as the former called the Skopje “Macedonia” and not “North Macedonia”, without anyone knowing if it was a “lapsus linguae” or he revealed his inner thoughts openly by mistake.
Mr Kotzias’ reference was made at the point where he was arguing that it was in the interests of Greece to resolve name dispute with the neighboring country.
What he said is, “in the European Union we are, let’s say, a small to medium-sized country. But in the Balkans we are a very strong country. This is the paradox of power. For example, Bulgaria has 42 billion GDP, Albania has 11, ‘Macedonia’ then had 8 to 9 now 10 to 11 and we, despite the crisis now, are going to 190, multiple times more than all of them together”.
In the same debate on the Prespa Agreement, Nikos Kotzias argued that “I put a condition, that no one should be involved. No country, no Ambassadors put pressure on us”, adding later that “if they (the USA) is also happy with this solution this is a coincidence of interests. It is not guidance”.
As the former FM said, “in ‘Macedonian issue’, our own interest was to solve it because it consumed diplomatic resources. As we get out of the crisis we have to take the Balkans out of the crisis as well. Because our country is small in the world, in Europe it is a medium country, but in the Balkans we are a big country”.
“The Americans wanted stability in the region, in this triangle of instability. And our own national interests were to solve the problems. I am a fan of active foreign policy”, added Nikos Kotzias.
In the question asked by Mr. Platias, “how is it possible that the Americans did not put any pressure?” the former FM argued that “when we were reaching a deadlock, I put Nimetz, the mediator, out of the negotiations”
He also reminded that FYROM wanted to enter into Euro-Atlantic structures. “It was their own request. We did not impose it on them”, he said, adding in a humorous tone, “I was calling them ‘North Macedonia’ in the negotiations even before the Prespa Agreement”!
The identity of the Greeks was not affected
Responding also to the question of how the agreement would be respected in the long-run, Mr Kotzias argued that “the problem is that the state is more concerned with geopolitics, while for citizens the identity issue is more serious. However, the identity of the Greeks was not affected”.