Half of the businesspeople from Northern Greece retreated from going on a visit to Skopje with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a sign of their disagreement with the bilateral deal on renaming Macedonia to North Macedonia.

“We are not going to Skopje, we do not even want to hear the name of North Macedonia”, the members of Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce said at a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday.

Tsipras is set to visit North Macedonia’s capital of Skopje in the coming months, making the first official visit of a head of the Greek cabinet to the neighboring country.

The Prespa deal on renaming Macedonia was signed by the two countries in June. However, the deal was met with criticism in both states. Notably, in Macedonia, the required turnout at the referendum on renaming the country was not met. Despite that, the deal was ratified by the parliaments of both countries.

Speaking at the Delphi Economic Forum in early March, Tsipras praised the so-called Prespa agreement, noting that due to the deal, the two countries began developing exemplary friendship, cooperation and solidarity. 

The dispute, solved by the deal, concerned Greece’s own region called Macedonia. Thus, Athens opposed Skopje’s use of the name. Moreover, the dispute was the main barrier preventing Skopje from pursuing membership in the European Union and NATO.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump in a letter to lawmakers said he has submitted a report to Congress on North Macedonia joining NATO.

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