Greek PM faces domestic backlash over Macedonia name deal

ATHENS: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faced accusations on Wednesday from opposition politicians and media that he had surrendered part of Greece’s national identity by striking a deal with neighbouring Macedonia to settle a long-running name dispute.
Under the accord, announced by Athens and Skopje on Tuesday, the Balkan state officially known at the United Nations as “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” would henceforth be called the “Republic of Northern Macedonia”.
The deal will open the way for Skopje’s eventual membership of Nato and the European Union, long blocked by Greece, which says use of the name “Macedonia” implies a territorial claim on a northern Greek province of the same name.
But the accord must still be approved by Macedonians in a referendum and by the parliaments of both countries, where nationalist and opposition parties have vowed to resist it.
Greece’s main opposition centre-right New Democracy party may submit a no-confidence motion against the Tsipras government, a party official said.
New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the deal “deeply problematic” because he said the majority of Greeks were against it and Tsipras lacked the authority to sign it.
“We are in a situation that is unprecedented in Greece’s constitutional history. A prime minister without a clear parliamentary mandate willing to commit the country to a reality which will not be possible to change,” Mitsotakis said.
In a front-page editorial, conservative daily Eleftheros Typos called the agreement “the surrender of the Macedonian identity and language”, while the centre-right Kathimerini newspaper referred to “a deal with gaps and question marks”.
Such concerns over identity have struck a deep chord with many ordinary Greeks who feel they have lost their sovereignty after nine years of painful austerity under three international bailouts.
“We have lost, we retreated,” said 40-year old Stamatia Valtadorou, a private sector employee. — Reuters