The vote, by a 2/3 majority, in the Parliament of Skopje of the constitutional amendments needed to implement the Prespes Treaty between Greece and the FYRoM (to be henceforth called “Republic of Northern Macedonia”), has been welcomed as a very positive step around the world. Not only through statements of support, also by preparations for the follow-up to the resolution of the “name issue” between Athens and Skopje – for instance the preparations for the official seating of Northern Macedonia at NATO meetings, between the Netherlands and Norway…
All of which turns the spotlight to Athens, where the Prespes Treaty has to pass in Parliament. Here, no super-charged majority is needed. Constitutionally, a simple majority is needed – but Greek Prime Minister Tsipras has made it a self-imposed condition that the absolute majority (151/300) be mustered for his coalition Government to stay in place. The problem is – it always was, but now it becomes dangerously evident – that the minor party to the coalition, of nationalist sentiment, is vigorously opposed to any solution with Greece’s northern neighbour bearing the name “Macedonia” in whatever use or form. As of yesterday, this party has quit the Government ranks – at least this was the official position of its leader – introducing a new element of uncertainty. Th Greek Prime Minister has consequently called for a vote of confidence.
So, while almost everybody in the world supports the solution offered by the Prespes Treaty – just last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Athens, mainly for this purpose – it is becoming clear that further efforts are needed if the long-standing “name issue” is to be solved once and for all. It is not only just a matter of parliamentary procedure: Opposition parties are, well, opposed to the Prespes Treaty, partly because they consider it a good chance to topple the Government – but also because there are extensive negative feelings among Greeks as to the whole matter. Nearly 7 respondents out of 10 in recent opinion polls have been constantly negative. Given that 2019 is an election year for Greece, preparations for the vote in the Greek Parliament remind one of battle waiting to be joined.
Not the best of backgrounds for a country just out of deep economic and social crisis.