A severe diplomatic incident between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was averted this week, when Nikola Dimitrov, FYROM’s Foreign Minister distanced his government’s stance from an irredentist event in Toronto, reprimanding the official who took part in it.
The event in question featured, among other irredentist symbols, a map depicting ‘Great Macedonia’, which includes parts of Greek territory and places the country’s borders in Larissa.
FYROM’s Consul General in Toronto, Jovica Palacevski, was one of the speakers at the event, which resulted in the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs promptly issuing a harsh statement: “We condemn the participation of FYROM’s Consul General in Toronto, Jovica Palacevski, in an irredentist event, a participation that constitutes yet another violation by FYROM of the Interim Accord, which requires abstention from any action supporting territorial claims”, read the statement.
“FYROM’s new government claims that it aspires to a new beginning in its relations with Greece. However, despite the change of leadership, it seems that irredentism continues to be the dominant state ideology and day-to-day political practice in our neighbouring country.
The renouncement of irredentism, respect for borders, and practical compliance with the principles of good neighbourliness are necessary conditions for the realisation of FYROM’s EuroAtlantic aspirations”.
This marked a return to the previous relationship status between Greece and FYROM, after the thawing effect of the leadership change in the Balkan country, which changed its rhetoric after years of maintaining a hard stance.
Speaking to the press, Mr Dimitrov tried to mend things, stating that he’s looking forward to the scheduled official visit of Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias to Skopje next Thursday. “In the next few days we will be closely cooperating regarding the agenda and with respect to the confidence-building measures,” Mr Dimitrov said, confirming that Consul General Palacevski has been called home for consultations on the issue which is still being investigated.
According to Dimitrov, the consulate had no part in the event’s organisation, nonetheless he made sure to stress, that FYROM does not condone any of its diplomats being photographed against a map covering a territory of Greece. “This is not our policy, this doesn’t do any favours for us. We want to join NATO, which means Greece tomorrow might be our ally. I want to clearly declare that in the future such excursions will not be tolerated.
The future of this country and the interest of its citizens are far too important for someone to be making such a mistake,” he said reaffirming his position that international treaties signed by FYROM are part of the country’s “legal order and they will be respected” and stated that it is in FYROM’s interest to abide by the 1995 Interim Agreement.