Merkel praises Tsipras in Athens for Prespa agreement; cites ‘North Macedonia’ three times
Visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel directly cited the Prespa agreement on Thursday afternoon immediately after her talks in Athens with Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, praising the prospective resolution of the long-standing fYRoM “name issue” and congratulating the latter over what she called a “decisive” step.
The landmark but also contentious bilateral agreement, which awaits ratification by the parliaments of both the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) and Greece, has been roundly praised by European partners, regional leaders and Washington. However, stepped up opposition exists in Greece – as well as fYRoM – with Tsipras’ poll-trailing coalition government appearing even shakier due to the agreement.
“I believe a ‘North Macedonia’ solution creates clarity and allows ‘North Macedonia’ the opportunity to join NATO and the EU; it also helps Greece … it gives (Euro-Atlantic) prospects for the western Balkan states; it benefits not only North Macedonia, but Greece and all Europe,” she told reporters at a joint press conference – carried live by several local television stations.
In beginning her comments, and before the press questions, Merkel reminded that Germany is Greece’s trade partner and the country from where the biggest bloc of tourists annually visiting the east Mediterranean country hail from.
She also cited the refugee/migrant crisis faced by Greece in 2015, amid its own severe problems, as she said, noting that both sides worked for a European solution, with a volition by European partners not to leave any member alone to face such a crisis alone.
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