Former Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotsias, the architect of the Prespa Agreement, said that establishing trust was key to reaching an agreement. As he stated, direct contacts are key, with a limited presence of intermediaries.
Kotsias also assessed that Bulgaria did not understand that a new nation with its own language was born in Northern Macedonia and that Sofia’s actions were destabilizing.
Kotsias, Foreign Minister in the government of Alexis Tsipras, said that the agreement between Athens and Skopje on changing the name of the former Yugoslav republic was reached because the two sides managed to build trust through direct contacts and that should be a lesson for negotiations between Greece and Turkey.
– The presence of the mediator in certain moments when he knows the topic well is necessary, but not during the entire duration of the negotiations – said Kotsias, adding that the UN mediator Matthew Nimetz was not present in two thirds of the negotiations between Greece and Northern Macedonia.
– The mediator can sometimes make things more difficult – Kotsias assessed, explaining that when two parties negotiate through a third party, both constantly try to convince the mediator, which only strengthens their positions.
Commenting on the recent Bulgarian blockade of the European integration of Northern Macedonia, Kotsias said that Sofia’s position is determined by the right-wing VMRO party, which is a coalition partner in Boyko Borisov’s government.
– Bulgaria did not understand that a new nation was born in Northern Macedonia, which has its own language. Instead of respecting and contributing to the peace and friendship of the people in the region, Bulgaria is acting in a destabilizing way, pretending that Hercules is without muscles – Kotsias said.
Speaking about global relations, Kotsias assessed that the West underestimated the rise of China and that the center of balance shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific, where Europe has no role. In his opinion, Greece could be a bridge between the West and the East, before succumbing to Western pressure to limit its special relations with China.
Recalling that Athens has been criticized for the investments of the Chinese company Kosko in the Greek port of Piraeus, Kotsias states that Greece has 0.2% of Chinese investments, and Germany and the United Kingdom 22% and 21%, which is 100 times more.
– The Germans have 6,500 companies in China. What the great powers want is for them to decide when they will have good or bad relations and for smaller countries to follow them. It means that they have no role, to be followers. Greece must not do that – Kotsias pointed out.
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