Greek PM discusses EU and NATO membership on Northern Macedonia visit

Greek PM discusses EU and NATO membership on Northern Macedonia visit

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will begin an official visit to North Macedonia today after a historic name dispute was

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Photo: Reuters

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will begin an official visit to North Macedonia today after a historic name dispute was put to rest in January.

The first official visit from a Greek leader since its independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 is expected to focus on increasing trade and investment relations. Messrs Tsipras and Zaev are expected to sign or oversee multi-million-euro investment pledges from Greek and Macedonian businesses today.

North Macedonia’s EU accession process will also be on the agenda, as Athens and Brussels have pledged to begin accession talks as quickly as possible for Skopje, seeking to capitalise on the spirit of the accord and overcoming remaining Western European opposition. This is due to the possibility of a conservative government coming to power in Greece, which could tap into significant Greek resentment towards the deal and undermine growing bilateral ties.

While both countries have faced a resurgence in nationalism amid opposition to the name agreement, both leaders have committed to overcoming objections from France and the Netherlands over Skopje’s accession. Facing grim re-election prospects, Tsipras is therefore under pressure to show that the agreement can bring stability to the region and provide for a smooth transition window for North Macedonia’s eventual EU accession.

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