FYROM PM Zoran Zaev was categorically against the Greek request for his country to change its constitution in an interview to German magazine Der Spiegel, citing an international treaty.
“Our name is our pride and identity. I do not see any reason for the requirement to change it in our constitution, that would damage our dignity. Greece needs a reliable partner and not a partner without dignity”, he stressed.
At the same time, he rejected the Greek proposal for the use of a name on the international stage. “To be honest, I do not see reasonable arguments in this regard. How will this work practically for the name of our state? Should we force Chancellor Merkel or President Donald Trump to say, for example, Severna Makedonija (North Macedonia)? This would not have a precedent internationally.”
Commenting on the recent large demonstrations in Greece on the name issue, Mr. Zaev pointed out that “[…] in a democracy it is the right of the people to protest and I can understand some extremists who are against a solution because it offends their personal feelings. But I believe that the overwhelming majority of Greeks are also in favour of the solution because they know that this is good for Greece’s image in the wider region and therefore for its future. I believe that my counterpart, Alexis Tsipras, thinks that way too. By resolving the conflict, Greece would come again closer to the place it deserves, that is to say, as a leading power in the region”, Zoran Zaev claimed.
Regarding the possibility of mediation on the dispute by Berlin following his recent meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he said that Athens and Skopje needed support and encouragement, but both sides will move on their own to take an independent and sovereign decision.
Asked if his country has territorial claims against Greece, Mr Zaev responded with a joke: “So, in the summer we want to take over the beautiful beaches and the islands of Greece. More than a million ‘Macedonians’ visit Greece each year, spend our money there, we love Greece, there are many contacts between businessmen and tourists in Greece. But to talk seriously: apart from that, we do not naturally take other ‘thoughts of conquest’.”