“In our opinion, as long as the European Commission started and set a horizon this summer to launch formal negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, we will have to deliver the promise we made,” Greek FM Nikos Kotzias says in an interview with EURACTIV. He urges “all sides to understand that there are indeed problems with these countries; we have put them first, but by joining a monitoring and screening process, they can solve them more efficiently.” As Kotzias adds, he’s told his counterparts that they can be as strict as they want. “But we must not block that prospect. I am afraid that if a date for accession is not given to North Macedonia, all this effort we made with great sacrifices and compromises from both sides, could be jeopardised. Furthermore, if one of the two countries starts the negotiations, and let’s say, Albania is left out, this will create a state of instability in the region. If some countries had issues with North Macedonia and Albania, they should have notified them before. Now, we have the Commission’s report and the proposal to look at the opening of the negotiations. Now we reached the point and we have to do it. Europe must keep its word,” he underlines. Regarding the reactions to the name deal, Kotzias reiterates his stand that VMRO-DPMNE operates as a branch of New Democracy in Skopje and vice-versa. He added there was a new dividing line. “The dividing line is no longer ‘those in Skopje and we in Athens’ but among those who want the solution of the problems and the European orientation and those who push for a non-solution. I believe Zaev will not bow to the pressure. He is a much more resilient politician than he seems at first sight,” Kotzias said.