Zaev-Mitsotakis meeting: Greece supports North Macedonia’s European prospects

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis endorsed North Macedonia’s EU accession prospects during his meetings with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and with the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, as part of the 4th Thessaloniki Summit, while he appeared ready to undertake appropriate initiatives in this direction.

This is a turning point for Mr. Mitsotakis, who up until the Summit simply spectated the developments in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Perhaps what was newsworthy from the meeting is that the Greek government in its official press release calls it by its name, North Macedonia, while up to this point it remained “unmentionable” both in the official announcements and in the government spokesman’s statements.

According to the announcement on the meeting with Zaev: “The two men discussed current affairs, as well as issues of mutual interest. The discussion focused on the recent Conclusions of the European Council of 17-18 October, with the Prime Minister reaffirming our country’s long-standing position in favor of the European Enlargement Policy in the Western Balkans, which will contribute to ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in wider region. He also added that Greece has played and will continue to play an active role in every direction to secure this course”.

However, the Maximos Mansion officials did not fail to point out that “Mr. Mitsotakis once again unfolded his criticism regarding the Prespa Agreement, though he stressed that since it constitutes a commitment for the two countries and is a prerequisite for the European path, it must be implemented and actions that preserve tension must be avoided. The two prime ministers agreed that consolidating good neighborly relations and regional co-operation remain essential criteria for all stages of the accession process, but also for strengthening our bilateral relations.

Finally, Mr. Mitsotakis and Mr. Zaev expressed their mutual willingness to develop the economic and trade relations between Greece and North Macedonia, as well as to realize projects that would facilitate connectivity in our region for the benefit of bilateral trade.

Greece will help us get a date for start of EU accession talks, and the implementation of the Prespa Agreement will go as planned, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said Thursday after meeting with his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Thessaloniki.

“The implementation of the Prespa Agreement will go according to the planned dynamics and both sides are fully committed to this. Our focus was on the European Council and its decision. I had the opportunity to get first-hand information on the discussion that took place there and the expectations that followed. The Prime Minister of friendly Greece will fight for our country to finally get a date for start of negotiations and I’m pleased about it,” PM Zaev said.

PM Mitsotakis said he had given Zaev the details on his activities, plans, and steps he could take in order to help.

“Talks tackled the border crossings. We agreed it was good that the Markova Noga border crossing would be opened soon. We also agreed that the international expert group should continue discussions to find acceptable solutions to both sides. I believe an acceptable solution is possible,” Zaev noted. “I know we’ll find an acceptable solution that would benefit businessmen, producers, companies, both in North Macedonia and in Greece.”

The meeting between the two PMs was held as part of the fourth Thessaloniki Summit.

Zaev also met with former Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris.
“The good friends of our country remain committed to maintaining and deepening the friendly relations between North Macedonia and Greece. Every meeting with former Thessaloniki mayor Boutaris is a new experience. He told me that next week he’ll visit several cities in our country as part of the program on connecting cities from both countries. We agreed that any business investment is an investment in friendship and better future for the people of both countries,” wrote Zaev on Facebook.