Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras characterised his talks with FYROM PM Zoran Zaev in Sofia, Bulgaria, as substantial.
At his news conference yesterday, Mr. Tsipras appeared optimistic, yet he sought to lower the bar of expectations.
“We have traversed a large part of the distance, but there is still a way to go,” he said.
At the same time, there appears to be a parallel negotiation in progress, regarding the national debt, which is linked to the FYROM naming issue.
It entails a deal by which Athens agrees to a composite name for FYROM, and in turn Berlin (which is quite interested in Skopje joining Nato), opens the way for a debt relief arrangement.
This parallel negotiation, and the prospects of the debt relief part concluding successfully, explains the prime minister’s euphoria.
Governmental expectations on this aspect of negotiations appear to be quite big, in contrast to the PM’s correct decision to publicly lower the bar of expectations.
This is all well and good, as long as the prime minister’s euphoria is not the product of some sort of self-deception, and as long as the great expectations are not replaced by a fresh disappointment, of the kind that Berlin often holds in store.
That remains to be seen. It is worth remembering, however, that the political climate in Athens bears little relation to the euphoria we witnessed in Sofia.