FYROM PM Zaev back-pedals on “Macedonian language” statement after rebuke by UN mediator Nimetz

Greek government used timid and lukewarm language on the matter

FYROM’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was forced to rephrase his statements about the prospect of a “Macedonian language” being taught in Greece, following the backlash they caused.

The Greek government might have chosen a more timid and lukewarm response, with Greek Deputy Foreign Minister George Katrougalos making a statement effectively equivocating both sides during a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO meeting with FYROM’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, but the special UN mediator on the name dispute Matthew Nimetz adopted a more harsh and direct stance, calling MP Zoran Zaev to order on the issue. Mr Nimetz urged Mr Zaev over the phone to avoid straying from the spirit of the Prespes Agreement by using such statements.

Mr Nimetz’s phone contact came in the heels of the intervention by the President of the Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who said: “we are not prepared to accept arbitrary interpretations, in view of the finalisation of the Prespes Agreement before its ratification.”

The FYROM government issued a statement clarifying it respected and understood the issue of the languages taught in Greece and that it was a matter of internal affairs. “All our statements and actions are made in good faith to support the [Prespes] Agreement”, the statement read.

The president of Greece’s main opposition party, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in the wake of the statements by Zaev, again called for the agreement not to be ratified. “Recognition of the supposedly ‘Macedonian language’ and ethnicity opens Pandora’s box to revive all the ahistorical irredentist claims by Skopje,” he said.