Greeks ponder mixed Macedonia referendum message

With ballots from 93 percent of polling stations counted, 91.3 percent of votes cast Sunday favoured the name changing to North Macedonia, compared to 5.7 percent opposed, according to the electoral commission's official count.

Greeks ponder mixed Macedonia referendum message

Greeks were trying Monday to make sense of Macedonia's weekend referendum, after a strong majority voted to end a 27-year name row but only a third of those eligible voted.However, only a third of the 1.8 million-strong electorate voted.

Greek commentators noted that the 659,000 voters who backed the name agreement were more than the 534,000 who elected Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov -- who opposes the deal -- in 2014.

But Greek daily Ethnos nevertheless described it as a "Pyrrhic yes". 

"This is good news for those opposed to the agreement (as Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran) Zaev was seriously hurt in the (referendum) process," Angelos Syrigos, a professor of international law at Panteio University, wrote in Ta Nea daily.

An editorial in the same paper said: "It would not be an exaggeration to say that a large part of the Greek political system was relieved by the absenteeism in the referendum ... because any failure to ratify the agreement will burden (Macedonia), not Greece." 

Ta Nea opposes the Tsipras government.

The agreement Skopje and Athens reached in June bound Macedonia to complete a constitutional revision formally changing the country's name by the end of the year.

But protests have been held in both countries against the agreement.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' coalition partner, Panos Kammenos, head of the nationalist Independent Greeks party, has threatened to defect from the government over the Macedonia deal.

“I think my government will survive, but I don’t know if my coalition will survive, but this is something my coalition partner will decide," Tsipras told the Wall Street Journal last week.

Elections in Greece are scheduled in the autumn of 2019, but there is speculation they could be held alongside local and European ballots in May.

Greece also has a northern province named Macedonia, the heart of Alexander the Great's ancient kingdom.

Many Greeks fear the deal on the table will officially enable Skopje to lay claim to their cultural heritage.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Ekim 2018, 11:54