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Prespa Deal Opens New Chapter for Greece-Skopje Trade Ties

Photo © Hellenic Parliament / Aliki Eleftheriou

Photo © Hellenic Parliament / Aliki Eleftheriou

It is the Greek government’s obligation to ensure the complete implementation of the agreement with Skopje, and to defend Greek companies that use the name ‘Macedonia’ and its derivatives in their trademarks, said Constantine Michalos, president of the Union of Hellenic Chambers, after Greece’s parliament ratified the so-called Prespa Agreement last week.

Of the total 300, a narrow majority of 153 MPs approved constitutional amendments foreseen in the agreement, which among others, foresee a name change from FYROM to Republic of North Macedonia – set to take effect immediately.

The President of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Konstantinos Michalos.

Constantine Michalos

“The ratification by parliament opens a new page for Greece’s trade relations with our northern neighbor,” added Michalos, who also heads the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Speaking to the Athens News Agency, Michalos underlined the importance of keeping strictly to the terms of the Prespa agreement, adding that in this case, the economies of both countries stand to benefit as it will encourage entrepreneurship.

“I should point out that Greece is among the top five investors in Skopje, and a compromise resolution that naturally guarantees our national interests will have wider economic and geopolitical benefits,” he said.

A top priority for Michalos, is ensuring there will be no adverse developments in the coming years in terms of the trade name of Greek products and of Protected Designation of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication products, which – he adds – cannot be subject to dispute as these have already been defined by EU decisions.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras; FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev; Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Kotzias; Special Representative of the United Nations for the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimitz. Photo Source: @Alexis Tsipras

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras; FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev; Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Kotzias; Special Representative of the United Nations for the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimitz signed the Prespa deal in June 2018. Photo Source: @Alexis Tsipras

The Prespa Agreement, has repeatedly created controversy and led to a dozens of protests across Greece. The name has been the subject of a diplomatic dispute for 27 years due to what critics consider “implied claims” to Greek territories and cultural heritage.

Michalos added that the Greek government must however pay careful attention to the possibility of Skopje businesses laying claim to established and dynamic brands related to Macedonia.

In view of this potential issue, Michalos said he has urged all Chamber members “whose brands include the word ‘Macedonia’ and its derivatives, to immediately proceed to with registered trademarks both in Greece and abroad”.

Last year, the country’s business and trade sector reacted fiercely to the deal, with Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Vassilis Korkidis claiming it would be “detrimental” and far from being in Greece’s best interests.

“In addition to the major national issues it creates, it does not offer the Greek side any added value in terms of the economy and trade; on the contrary it deprives the country,” Korkidis said in June.

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