Greece slams new North Macedonian president for using ‘Macedonia’ during swearing-in

Greece
Mon, 13 May 2024 5:58 GMT
Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova’s act violates 2018 Prespa Agreement as well as country’s own constitution, says Greek Foreign Ministry.
Greece slams new North Macedonian president for using ‘Macedonia’ during swearing-in

Greece has condemned the newly elected North Macedonian President Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova for calling the country “Macedonia,” during her swearing-in ceremony.

“This act blatantly violates the Prespa Agreement as well as the constitution of the neighboring country, which has been harmonized with its international obligations. The Greek government, despite the objections it had expressed as an opposition during the ratification of the agreement, respected it as a ratified international treaty that takes precedence over any other provision of law,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday.

The 2018 Prespa Agreement saw the renaming of Macedonia to North Macedonia and paved the way for its NATO membership.

Greece warned that its bilateral relations with North Macedonia, and Skopje’s European course would depend on the full implementation of the agreement and “above all on the use of the country's constitutional name.”

In a related development, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also condemned the move.

"For North Macedonia to continue its successful path on EU accession it is paramount that the country continues on the path of reforms and full respect for its binding agreements, including the Prespa Agreement," she said in a statement on social media site, X.

Meanwhile, European Council President Charles Michel expressed his "disappointment" over Davkova's use of the former name of North Macedonia.

"The EU recalls the importance of continued implementation of legally binding agreements, including Prespa agreement with Greece," he said on X.

The EU External Action Service (EEAS) was also swift in its reaction, saying that "The EU regrets the fact that the new President of North Macedonia, President Siljanovska-Davkova, did not use the constitutional name of the country during the swearing-in ceremony today."

It further echoed EC President Michel’s call to North Macedonia on the importance of full respect for existing, legally binding agreements.

Earlier Sunday, 71-year-old Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, a law professor and jurist, was sworn in as the country’s first woman president, at a ceremony in the North Macedonian Assembly.

In her initiation speech, Davkova pledged to diligently and responsibly fulfill her duties as the country’s president.

"I will respect the Constitution and laws, and I will protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of Macedonia," she said.

After the new president did not use the constitutional name of North Macedonia during her speech, Greek Ambassador Sophia Philippidou, who was present at the time, left the hall in protest.

Davkova took over the presidency from Stevo Pendarovski in a handover ceremony following the Assembly session.

In the second round of North Macedonia's presidential election on May 8, Davkova secured victory with 64.14% of the votes.

She was backed by the alliance led by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE).

Meanwhile, the alliance supported by the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), led by former President Stevo Pendarovski, received 29.25% of the votes.

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