It comes as no surprise that the ratification of the Prespes agreement by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYROM) parliament would not go down well – the deal has harsh opponents in both Greece and FYROM, who have been very vocal in their stance.
So when FYROM’s PM Zoran Zaev managed to get 80 MPs out of the parliament’s 120 to vote in favour for the constitutional change that would see the country adopt the name ‘North Macedonia’, all hell broke loose, with the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE accusing parliamentarians of betrayal and of accepting bribes, ranging from €100,000 to €2 million, depending on which opposition-affiliated media outlet one chooses to believe. The same media outlets speak of blatant intervention by the US ambassador in Skopje, Jess Bailey, depicting them as the true ruler of the country and the architect of the ‘Black Friday’ vote.
Picking up on the bribery accusations was none other than Greece’s most vocal opponent of the deal – who is ironicallly, the leader of the junior coalition government party, Panos Kammenos. The Greek Defense Minister not only tweeted about the €2m bribery price, but also spoke of the Foreign Ministry’s ‘secret funds’, accusing the former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias of taking €50 million from George Soros to promote the deal – he has since denied ever saying that.
Regardless, this theory persists – and how could it not? It is a scenario that includes corrupt politicians, traitors, CIA agents and millions of euros crossing the FYROM-Greece borders, in both directions – what’s not to like? But there is a point where this theory can’t stand the test of reason. If the FYROM opposition PMs needed to be bribed to ratify the deal that the country’s PM signed, then this means that the deal is bad for their country and that they are traitors. Ergo, if this deal is bad for FYROM, then it is beneficial for Greece. So those in Greece who predict a round of bribes going around the Greek parliament should not hold their breath – and Panos Kammenos should stop barking. If the deal is bad for Greece, and Greek politicians who campaign for it are traitors, then there would be no point in bribing FYROM MPs to ratify it.
The truth is that this deal is a result of compromise and mutual concessions – it’s called diplomacy. It’s what countries do, in order to be able to live together and avoid conflict.
Hot-headed people in both countries fail to see that – when perceptions defy reason, too bad for reason.