Zoran Zaev, the Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia told a Greek broadcaster on Friday that the ongoing issue of the name displayed on the jerseys of his nation’s football players is being addressed.
Last week, Athens had brought a formal complaint before UEFA, the government body in charge of the European football championship, which has already begun, in relation to the logos, which still read “The Republic of Macedonia” in defiance of the naming stipulations included in the groundbreaking 2018 Prespa Accords, in which the country was allowed to adopt the official name of “The Republic of North Macedonia.”
The controversial agreement was the culmination of many years of back-and-forth charges, with many in Greece angry that any form of the name “Macedonia” be used in the Balkan nation to the north of Greece.
North Macedonia – Macedonia name issue rears its head three years after Prespa
Today, the Prime Minister of North Macedonia stated to Greece’s national broadcaster ERT that objections from Athens to the way his country’s name appears on the national team’s jerseys are being addressed
Moreover, he assured that the issue will be resolved on the basis of the name deal he officially signed with former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in 2018.
“We have already raised the issue with the Federation and will resolve it on the basis of the Prespa Agreement, UEFA rules and tradition in the upcoming period,” Zaev said in a written response to a request for comment from Greek media.
The request was a result of the controversy that erupted last week after Athens lodged its complaint with UEFA over the name “Football Federation of Macedonia” and the initials “FFM,” that sill appear on players’ jerseys.
“All of Europe knows”
“All of Europe knows that our national football team represents North Macedonia at the Championship. Even if the federation is not a public entity, the national team is, as it is in all countries in the world,” Zaev stated.
“So it is and should be clear on all levels and to everyone that it is the national team of North Macedonia, irrelevant of the initials of the Federation on the kit. We have already raised the issue with the Federation.”
“(The) Prespa agreement’s implementation is a work in progress and our goal is to gradually find solutions with our neighbors… to move us forward on the basis of cooperation and mutual respect,” he added.
Greece had sent a letter of complaint to President of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Aleksander Ceferin on June 12 over the name being used by the North Macedonia team.
Greek Sports Minister Lefteris Avgenakis signed the letter of Greece’s objection to the FFM (Football Federation of Macedonia) badge on the team’s jersey that excludes the word “North” from the Balkan country’s name.
According to he name agreement signed between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in 2018, the country’s name is now Republic of North Macedonia.
Based on the customary use of abbreviations for an internationally recognized name, the Balkan country should include a “N” in the abbreviation.
The Greek minister said that FFM is not a proper abbreviation of North Macedonia, as agreed by both sides in the 2018 Prespa accord.
In the letter, Avgenakis also asked UEFA to look into the name of the country’s soccer association, Football Federation of Macedonia, saying that it also contravenes the name deal.
This is the first time Greece’s neighbor has taken part in the final phase of the major event. Northern Macedonia completes the 3rd group of the UEFA Euro 2020 along with the Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria. On Sunday it faces Austria.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has also sent a similar letter to his counterpart in North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani.