Macedonia name change will weaken Turkish influence in Balkans - Greek ex-foreign minister

A deal between Greece and Macedonia for the country to change its name to North Macedonia will stabilise the Balkans and undermine Turkey's influence in the region, a Greek former foreign minister said late on Monday, the Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

Macedonia’s parliament narrowly voted on Friday to approve the name change that will open the way to the former Yugoslav republic joining NATO. Greece had blocked Macedonia’s membership, arguing the name Macedonia implied territorial claims to a Greek province of the same name.

“Do we want our most immediate neighbour to be under the influence and control of third powers, such as Turkey? Or do we want to have stability in the Balkans, in the borders, and the growing influence of our country in the region so we can ally with them against the destabilising forces?” former minister Nikos Kotzias asked at an event in Crete.

Kotzias has served two terms as foreign minister since January 2015, but resigned last week following an argument with Defence Minister Panos Kammenos over the Macedonia deal, which the junior coalition party leader opposes.