Zaev optimistic of Prespes deal's ratification

The Macedonian PM also looks forward to new passport

Photo: EPA Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev expressed on Wednesday optimism that the name deal with Greece would be ratified by Parliament in Athens this week, saying that he looks forward to getting a new passport for the “Republic of North Macedonia.”

“I will probably be the first person to change my passport... I was the first to shout: ‘Long live the Republic of North Macedonia,’” Zaev reportedly told broadcaster Alsat, according to translated comments in the Greek media.

“This is not going to be easy for out people, but it gives hopes and prospects for the future,” Zaev added, referring to domestic opposition to the country's name change under the Prespes agreement.

Zaev added that he is also confident that FYROM will be able to start accession talks with NATO in mid-February if the deal passes in Athens this week.

Yet, things may not go as planned. Last week Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras easily survived a confidence vote, but the battle for the ratification of the Prespes accord would be much tougher task for him. Tsipras must convince 151 MPs to vote in favour of the ratification of the historic deal. The situation, however, will be neither simple, or easy as the vote of confidence was since it was the treaty with Macedonia the reason behind Defence Minister Panos Kammenos' resignation and ANEL's walk-out of the coalition, which left the PM without parliamentary majority and caused the confidence vote..

As a result now the government struggles to get the crucial 151st vote needed for the ratification. This is reportedly the vote of Kostas Zouraris of ANEL, who has already announced that he will vote against, which means that Tsipras now hardly collects 150 votes. The crucial point is whether SYRIZA will convince Zuraris to change his mind before the treaty enters the parliament tonight.

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