Yannis Boutaris has never shied away from controversy. This time, the mayor of Thessaloniki weighed in on the matter of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) naming issue, repeating his long-standing view that a compromise is in order.

“You should have good relations with your neighbours,” he argued in a radio interview, defending his decision to invite FYROM’s moderate prime minister, Zoran Zaev to ring in the New Year in Thessaloniki.

“We agreed on conducting cultural exchanges with dance and music and lectures. We also spoke about Thessaloniki establishing a scholarship,” Boutaris said.

“The naming issue was derailed by the idiocy of politicians. These people [of FYROM] want to find an identity, with concessions on both sides, and the opposition is also ready for a compromise. Zaev said he would change the name of the [Alexander the Great] airport and change street signs,” he added, confirming the new FYROM leader’s moderate stance on the issue.

Answering to his critics, Yannis Boutaris said: “There is no one who is more Macedonian than me. My heritage and upbringing says it all.”