Zaev: No name agreement yet, the principles have been defined

There is still no agreement over the name, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Wednesday.

“There is no agreement yet. As stated by foreign ministers Dimitrov and Kotzias, the principles of the agreement have been defined and now comes the legal-formal aspect of the agreement. I believe a conversation between myself and PM Tsipras will take place these days – this evening, tomorrow or Friday. I expect a significant step forward and we will inform the public accordingly,” PM Zaev told reporters following a press conference observing one year since the government’s formation.

Regarding the steps for the agreement’s implementation, he said there is nothing secretive and these aspects were discussed at the recent leaders’ meeting.

“Besides the formal aspect of the possible agreement, there should also be discussions over the timeline for its implementation. Macedonia favors a referendum and Greece understands this. It is logical to set up the steps for implementation of a possible agreement,” added Zaev.

He refrained from mentioning adjectives to the name because talks are currently in the final stages.

Asked why the agreement would need ratification in Parliament by a simple majority of 61 votes prior to the referendum, the PM said this is needed so that Greece sends a letter to NATO approving Macedonia’s membership invitation.

“The agreement’s ratification is supported by both governments and probably the parliamentary majority, I hope a larger one that includes the opposition. However, the referendum has the final say, probably by the end of September or the beginning of October. Citizens will give us the guidelines through an open and transparent procedure, which is the way to solve problems,” stressed Zaev.

Pertaining to the possibility of changes in history books following the Bulgaria Friendship Treaty, as well as protection of the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, the PM said the agreement clearly stated that Macedonia would defend the rights of its community outside of its borders, in line with international agreements that are binding for all countries.

“The rights of Macedonians are in no way jeopardized. In addition, Macedonia and Bulgaria share history, the Balkans has a shared history, Europe has a shared history. However, Macedonia has a history of its own, as does Bulgaria. Activities of the committees for implementation of the Friendship Treaty will be transparent and accountable to citizens,” stressed Zaev.