The spectre of the “Macedonian” issue, the outstanding and chronic issue of Greek foreign policy, again threatens to blow up political life and the stability of the country, the stability that is so necessary at this crucial economic juncture.
The impact of the issue was catalytic in 1992, and as things are going it may have similar repercussions now, 26 years later.
Undoubtedly, the prime minister bears the greatest responsibility, because, as is his wont, he sought to exploit the entire affair, to transform the opportunity for a solution into an opportunity to expose his political opponents and create conditions for a breakup of the opposition front.
With his entire stance in the negotiations, with the arrogance and lack of transparency that characterise his initiatives, and with the tolerance that he has shown towards his abysmal junior coalition partner, who wants to be both with the police and the gendarmerie (both sides), as the saying goes, he provoked the other political parties and lost the opportunity for a fundamental consensus, without which national issues cannot be resolved, especially those that provoke public opinion and arouse the emotions of the Greek people.
It is true that the reaction of citizens was surprising and certainly startled the government, which assumed that time had tempered the passions that existed 25 years ago.
Despite that, he did not want to adjust his stance and behavior. He did not pursue an understanding or even a rudimentary participation of systemic political forces in seeking a more suitable resolution of the “Macedonian” issue.
On the contrary, by highlighting at the same time the Novartis affair and charging half the political system, he sharpened differences. He excluded from the debate even those who saw the need for a resolution of this national issue and may have thought that it is time to resolve an issue that has festered for years.
Moreover, constant tensions and the lack of contact did not permit timely observations that would have allowed the agreement to be improved and to be more easily manageable.
With his stance, the prime minister unfortunately cultivated the suspicions and hypocrisy of everyone. Certainly, he allowed those who deny democracy [a Golden Dawn MP] to demand a coup d’etat in parliament, encouraging the military to take action.
By all accounts, the government’s handling of the affair was the worst possible. It bolstered divisions and did not facilitate the necessary consensus. Right now, the government has everyone against it. The overwhelming majority of society is negative.
There are no citizens north of Tempe who defend the agreement that Mr. Tsipras will sign at Prespes. Let us be honest. The prime minister bears the seeds of division, with which he has conducted politics for years.
Worst of all, under these divisive conditions, Mr. Tsipras is conducting negotiations with Greece’s partners and creditors, regarding the economy and the national debt, isolated, without allies, and without national support. The feedback is not the best. Already, the markets are talking about a “dirty exit” from the bailout memorandum, and the prevalent view is that we are headed towards a paltry solution on the debt.
The prime minister should have known that the handling of major national issues requires above all a solid domestic front.
Without national unity and trust, Mr. Tsipras, one cannot gain victory on affairs of national import.