The Prespa Agreement breaks down opposition populist rhetoric

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The final ratification of the Prespa Agreement by Sobranie opens the door for a similar development in the Greek Parliament. PMs Tsipras and Zaev have reached an historic deal for the two countries that can pave the way for a new era in the Balkan region.

Greece and North Macedonia were at loggerheads for decades as previous political leaderships in both Athens and Skopje were not committed to a mutually acceptable deal. This dispute has damaged national interests of both countries, fostering tensions in the wider region, reviving nationalism at the expense of a peaceful solution.

PM Alexis Tsipras and his homologue Zoran Zaev demonstrated strong leadership during the last year, insisting on negotiations for a final deal, respecting the historical sensitivities of both sides, but also showing bold commitment to bring about a final and lasting solution.

The effect of this deal in the Greek political landscape is expected to be immense. I strongly believe that departing from the Prespa Agreement, a number of myths pertaining previous governing parties in Greece will start crashing down.

The first myth is that front opposition party, New Democracy, is supporting a name deal. Wrong. While its leadership in 2008 adopted the very same stance as Syriza government did during this year, it has now abandoned its stance, coming closer to what far-right Golden Dawn is calling for, thus turning itself against the deal.

The second myth that seems to be tested is that of New Democracy and KINAL claiming not to be populist. Wrong. Both have invested in a populist rhetoric against the Greek government, stressing out that it has bargained and condoned the Macedonia name deal with a certain agreement regarding financial issues, i.e. namely the non-cut of pensions. Even if the Greek government and the European institutions have officially turned down this allegation, both political parties keep insisting on spreading fake news.     

The third myth deals with the communication channel between New Democracy and far-right Golden Dawn. The former officially denies that, but truth is that Mitsotakis leadership has repeatedly winked at far-right, especially on name dispute, but also on other issues.

All things considered, the Prespa Agreement that comes to the Greek Parliament for ratification, can clear things up and offer a new window of opportunity for a much-needed progressive alliance in domestic politics.

*Dimitris Papadimoulis is Vice-President of the European Parliament, head of SYRIZA party delegation.

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