A civil war-style political environment is brewing in Skopje over aspects of the name deal that is being promoted, with the country’s president apparently objecting to domestic use of the new name, even as ruling SYRIZA and main opposition New Democracy sparred over FYROM PM Zoran Zaev’s leaks about the deal.
The Greek prime minister’s office yesterday issued a statement reiterating the main conditions for a settlement, for Skopje’s admission to Nato and to its getting a date to start EU accession talks.
Those conditions remain a composite name with a geographic or temporal marker, which would be used domestically and internationally, and which would be included in the FYROM constitution with an amendment.
Responding to New Democracy’s criticism, the statement underlined that deal has yet been formally concluded.
That appeared to contradict the statements of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who said that an agreement has been reached and that now it must be sealed by the two prime ministers.
Zaev yesterday declared that there is an agreement “in principle”, and he announced the planned moves of the Greek government, intended to open the way for Skopje’s admission to Nato.
Meanwhile, in Skopje, President Gjorge Ivanov appeared to be disgruntled over the fact that Zaev had not briefed him on the latest developments, and he signaled that he opposed to domestic use of the new name.
Another issue that has arisen is that of what the Orthodox Church of FYROM will be called and how it will be re-incorporated in the canonical order of the Church by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The schismatic Church is currently called Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric.
“The only thing we have now is the decision of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to do what is necessary to satisfy the request of the PM of FYROM to remove the word Macedonia from the name of the Church of our northern neighbours,’ PM Alexis Tsipras’ office said in a statement.
A FYROM website named Sloboden Pechat featured an interview with Metropolitan Timothy of Dobarsko- Kičevo, who said that the Church had written a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarchate asking it to recognise its autocephaly[independent, self-rule], but without offering to remove the name Macedonia.
He said, however, that they would accept the name Ohrid Archbishopric, without the title “Macedonian Orthodox Church”.
“A month ago, we sent a request to the Ecumenical Patriarchate requesting recognition of the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric. Nobody demanded, nor dreamed of any deletion of the name [Macedonian Orthodox Church]. The church does not give up its name,” Sloboden Pechat, quoted Timothy, who is also spokesperson of the MOC-OA, as saying.
“When asked about an eventual new name of the Ohrid Archbishopric, Timothy says that if they «recognize us as Ohrid Archbishopric, we would accept it». The Bishop also confirmed that the sending of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s letter to the Ecumenical Patriarchate was in coordination with the Synod of the MOC-OA.”, the same website reported.