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Posts tagged ‘Land of the Balkans’

Montenegro more puzzled than affronted by Trump’s attention

July 19, 2018

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — World War III? Not us, say the puzzled people of Montenegro. Public officials in this tiny European nation didn’t know what to say initially when U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that NATO’s newest and smallest member, which has a military with fewer than 2,000 members, could be the spark that sets off a global Armageddon.

That the leader of the world’s dominant superpower would characterize the 620,000 or so Montenegrins as “very strong” and “very aggressive people” rendered their government speechless. It found its voice Thursday, and what came out was less a battle cry than a chorus of “Kumbaya.”

“We build friendships, and we have not lost a single one,” read a statement issued in the capital, Podgorica, in response to the media’s clamoring for comment. “It does not matter how big or small you are, but to what extent you cherish the values of freedom, solidarity and democracy.”

Living in a region that has seen more than its share of volatile conflicts, Montenegrins say they are much more interested in tourism than war. Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic like Slovenia, the home country of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, is known for its long Adriatic Sea beaches.

“I laughed when I heard that and figured it could be a good advertisement,” retiree Slavka Kovacevic, 58, said of Trump’s depiction while taking a break from her morning shopping. Trump ventured his thoughts on Montenegro during an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson conducted Monday after the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. They were discussing NATO’s mutual defense pact.

If Montenegro, for example, were provoked, having NATO behind it could embolden “a tiny country with very strong people” to engage, the president said. “They are very strong people. They are very aggressive people, they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you are in World War III,” he added.

The comment was not the first time Trump had taken notice of Montenegro in a way that attracted oversized attention. At a NATO summit last year, his first as president, Trump shoved Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of the way while trying to get in front for a leaders’ group photo.

Back then, Markovic refused to make a fuss over the American president’s manners. Markovic also took the high road regarding Trump’s comments this week. He noted in a parliamentary debate Wednesday that Trump spoke within the context of questioning NATO financing and was not trying to put down a particular ally.

“Therefore, the friendship and the alliance of Montenegro and the United States of America is strong and permanent,” Markovic’s government said in its statement Thursday. Trump’s views have some basis in history. Montenegro, which means “Black Mountain,” does boast of a heroic warring tradition forged over centuries of conquest and contemporary conflicts in the troubled Balkans.

Montenegro was a rare country in the region to retain a level of autonomy during the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Its past ties to Russia, with whom Montenegro shared a predominantly Slavic and Orthodox Christian culture, were so strong that its leaders were said to have declared a war on Japan in 1904 just to support Russia.

Montenegro became part of Yugoslavia after World War I. During the breakup of Yugoslavia, Montenegro was bombed by NATO forces in 1999 before it split from Serbia in 2006. “I just want to remind all the American public opinion and President Trump that Montenegro was an ally with American soldiers in two wars, in the first world war and the second world war,” former parliament speaker Ranko Krivokapic told The Associated Press.

“Montenegrins are not aggressive … but the nation of brave warriors,” he said. As it happens, the governor of the U.S. state of Maine, Paul LePage, was visiting Montenegro in hopes of strengthening ties with business and political leaders when the president’s interview aired. Maine is six times as big as Montenegro and has had a partnership with the country since 2006. LePage says it originally focused on disaster relief, emergency management and border security.

The Balkans have a difficult history, but “everybody likes Montenegro,” the governor said in a video the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro posted Tuesday. The embassy followed up Thursday with its own statement, saying “the United States is proud to call Montenegro an ally.”

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters seeking clarification of the president’s thoughts on NATO commitments in general and Montenegro in particular Wednesday that any elaboration would have to come from the White House.

“I can tell you that the president reiterated our ironclad commitment to NATO’s collective defense last week” at a NATO leaders’ meeting in Brussels, Nauert said. “Their summit declaration that came out at the end of the summit stated clearly that any attack against one ally will be regarded as an attack against all.”

Although its land mass and military are small, Montenegro was seen as an important addition to NATO when it defied Russia and joined last year. Along with having been a Russian ally in the Balkans, the country sits on a southern stretch of the Adriatic Sea that Moscow has been keen to control.

Montenegrin authorities accused Russia of being behind a foiled coup in 2016 that was intended to kill the country’s pro-NATO prime minister. Russia has denied the allegation. Given the recent tensions, some Montenegrin observers worried Trump’s comments might need to be taken seriously.

Former parliament speaker Krivokapic described Trump’s remark as “very strange.” “I hope (it was) just a mistake, nothing else,” Krivokapic said. “And I hope that Montenegro was not part of (the) Helsinki talks.”

The reaction of Miljan Kovacevic, 34, a lawyer in Montenegro, was more akin to his prime minister’s post-shove aplomb. “He is the president of America, but he has not done too well with his statements lately,” Kovacevic shrugged.

Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade.


Greek court rules to extradite cybercrime suspect to France

July 13, 2018

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — A Greek court agreed Friday to extradite to France a Russian cybercrime suspect who also is wanted on criminal charges in the United States and Russia. The court in the northern city of Thessaloniki ruled in favor of France’s request for Alexander Vinnik, a former bitcoin operator who was arrested in Greece last year on a U.S.-issued international warrant.

Vinnik is appealing the decision, defense lawyer Ilias Spyrliadis said. France is seeking the 38-year-old for alleged cybercrime, money laundering, membership in a criminal organization and extortion. The Greek Supreme Court earlier approved Vinnik’s extradition to the U.S. to stand trial for allegedly laundering billions of dollars using bitcoin.

French authorities accuse Vinnik of defrauding thousands of people worldwide, including about 100 French nationals, by launching cyberattacks through his bitcoin platform. They allege he used 20,643 bitcoins to launder around 133 million euros ($155 million.)

Vinnik has denied doing anything illegal. He remains jailed in Greece pending final decisions on his extradition. Meanwhile, Russian authorities sent a new request this month for Vinnik’s extradition Russia initially sought Vinnik on lesser fraud charges, and a Greek court ruled for his extradition to Russia based on the first request. The second request raises the amount of money allegedly involved in the cyberfraud there to 750 million rubles ($12 million.)

Spyrliadis said a European warrant ordinarily would take precedence over others, giving France first dibs on prosecuting Vinnik. But he said in practice, it’ll be up to Greece’s justice minister to decide where Vinnik ends up.

Bigger is better? NATO opens up to Macedonia as rifts linger

July 11, 2018

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO has invited Macedonia to start membership talks, a step toward adding its 30th member despite Russia’s objection and a show of unity at a time of growing discord between the Trump administration and Europe.

The invitation Wednesday came at a NATO summit at which U.S. President Donald Trump demanded more military spending by some allegedly deadbeat allies, as countries like Canada and Britain committed more to new manpower than new money.

Macedonia was given a pathway to membership on condition that it finally iron out its years-long standoff over its name with Greece, which took a big step forward with their deal last month that could rename the country North Macedonia.

Macedonian voters and the Greek parliament still must sign off on that deal, which could also dissipate any Greek objections to the Skopje government’s ambition to join the European Union. “Once all national procedures have been completed to finalize the name agreement, the country will join NATO as our 30th member,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. “It cannot become a member if it doesn’t change its name. That’s in a way the simple choice, and that’s up to the people.”

Russia, NATO’s most prominent rival, has bemoaned the possible addition of another alliance member — reviving Cold War-style tensions. Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev hailed the invitation but noted objections from Moscow.

“Very obviously, they are against our integration in NATO,” he said during a panel talk on the sidelines of the summit. Zaev alleged “some activities” by Russia had attempted to thwart the deal, but he did not elaborate.

The overture toward expansion came amid a backdrop of strain in NATO, notably continued pressure by Trump on allies to shoulder a bigger share of military spending — including a swipe at Germany for being “captive” to Russia.

Instead of new money, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his country will lead NATO’s new military training mission in Iraq, with up to 250 troops. Canada isn’t meeting an informal alliance target for member states to devote at least 2 percent of their economic output to defense spending.

Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, which is meeting that target, announced it would send 440 military personnel for a similar training mission in Afghanistan — by far the alliance’s biggest foreign venture.

The pledges came as NATO has been keen to play a major role in the fight against terrorism and demonstrate its resilience against an aggressive Russia that has annexed Crimea and sown instability in Ukraine.

Canada’s offer is part of NATO’s attempt to help Iraq rebuild and ensure the Islamic State group can’t gain a new foothold there. The commitment was part of the alliance’s expansion of the number of trainers from around a dozen currently to several hundred operating out of the capital, Baghdad.

“Those sorts of tangible elements are at the heart of what NATO stands for,” Trudeau said, in an apparent bid to outflank Trump’s call for money. “You can try and be a bean counter and look at exactly how much this and how much money that, but the fundamental question is: is what you’re doing actually making a difference?

The British commitment in Afghanistan came as NATO agreed to fund the Afghan army through 2024. Britain’s addition will beef up efforts that are already training some 16,000 troops. “I think that shows when NATO calls, the U.K. is one of the first to step up,” May told reporters.

In another show of resolve to Russia, the leaders rubber-stamped a plan to ready a crisis response contingent that can be rapidly deployed — 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 battleships within 30 days. It also endorsed two new command headquarters — in Norfolk, Virginia and Ulm, Germany — to help better move troops and equipment across the Atlantic and through Europe.

Questioned repeatedly about Trump’s attacks on European allies and Canada, Stoltenberg acknowledged trans-Atlantic differences, but refused to say whether the U.S. leader’s attacks were damaging the alliance.

“My task is to make sure that we stay together, so if I started to freely reflect on all possibilities, then I would undermine the unity of this alliance,” Stoltenberg said. Trump’s “America First” policies have exposed major differences between the U.S. and many parts of Europe on issues as diverse as climate change, trade and tariff policies, and the Iran nuclear deal that the U.S. leader has rejected.

Stoltenberg sought to depict his alliance as a force for unity that gives Washington a way to project power from Europe into Asia, the Middle East and Africa. “A strong NATO is good for Europe and good for the United States,” he said. “Two world wars and a Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart.”

Northern light: Macedonia makes name change deal with Greece

June 12, 2018

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece and Macedonia reached an historic agreement Tuesday to end a bitter 27-year name dispute that had kept the smaller and younger country out of international institutions such as NATO, the two countries’ prime ministers announced.

Greece’s Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev said the former Yugoslav republic’s new name for both domestic and international purposes would be Republic of North Macedonia. Macedonia will also amend its constitution to reflect the change as part of the deal.

The nationality of the country’s citizens will be listed on official documents in English as “Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia,” Greek officials said. NATO and European Union officials welcomed the breakthrough, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said would help consolidate regional peace and stability.

Greece had long demanded that its northern neighbor change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of the region in northern Greece named Macedonia — birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.

The current prime ministers’ attempts to end the dispute have faced dissent in both countries, leading to large protests by opponents of a compromise, threatening to split Greece’s governing coalition and provoking a rift between Macedonia’s prime minister and president.

And main opposition parties in both countries rejected the agreement. Zaev said the deal would be signed this weekend, and a voter referendum would be held in the fall. In a televised address, Tsipras said the 140 countries which had recognized the Balkan state simply as Macedonia would now recognize it as Republic of North Macedonia.

“This achieves a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbors and puts an end to the irredentism which their current constitutional name implies,” he said. He added that Macedonia “cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia.”

Speaking at a news conference in the Macedonian capital, Skopje, Zaev described the deal as a “historic agreement of the century.” “We have been solving a two-and-a-half decade dispute … that has been drowning the country,” he said, adding that the deal “will strengthen the Macedonian identity.”

On the timeline of the deal, Tsipras said that it would be first signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers and then ratified by Macedonia’s parliament. Greece will then back invitations for Macedonia to join NATO and start negotiations on joining the EU. However, Tsipras said, this will be contingent on Macedonia completing the constitutional changes.

“In other words, if the constitutional amendment is not successfully completed, then the invitation to join NATO will be automatically rescinded and the accession talks with the European Union will not start,” he said.

The deal was welcomed by EU officials. European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted his “sincere congratulations” to Tsipras and Zaev. “I am keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible,” he said.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement congratulating the two prime ministers “in reaching this historic agreement between their countries, which contributes to the transformation of the entire region of South-East Europe.”

They said they looked forward to accession negotiations beginning with Skopje in June. The United Nations envoy who mediated the dispute for two decades congratulated Tsipras and Zaev for resolving their differences.

Matthew Nimetz said in a statement he had “no doubt this agreement will lead to a period of enhanced relations between the two neighboring countries and especially between their people.” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the agreement as “a demonstration of leadership to the wider region and beyond” and hopes it will inspire others involved in drawn-out conflicts “to work towards negotiated settlements without further delay,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

However, both prime ministers faced dissent at home. Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, whose right-wing Independent Greeks party is Tsipras’ governing coalition partner, said he would oppose an agreement in a parliamentary vote, meaning the left-wing prime minister will need to seek support from political opponents.

In Skopje, meanwhile, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said earlier in the day that he remained opposed to writing the new name into the constitution, a move intended to show the change is permanent and binding for domestic and international use.

The main opposition party in Macedonia, the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, accused Zaev of “capitulating” to Greece. “In essence, the (deal) is acceptance of all Greek positions,” VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski said.

In Athens, conservative main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Tsipras not to go ahead with the agreement. “This is a bad agreement that is in conflict with the majority of the Greek people,” he said.

Organizers of past rallies in Greece’s main cities against a compromise with Macedonia also expressed outrage at the deal, with one accusing Tsipras of “high treason.” “He was Skopje’s best negotiator,” Michael Patsikas told The Associated Press.

This version has been corrected to show that the English translation of the country’s official name, which was announced in Greek and Macedonian, will be Republic of North Macedonia, not Republic of Northern Macedonia.

Mironski contributed from Skopje, Macedonia. Nicholas Paphitis and Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Greece, and Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, contributed.

New protest in northern Greece against Macedonia name deal

June 27, 2018

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — About 2,500 people, waving Greek flags and chanting “Macedonia is Greek,” marched through the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki Wednesday to protest a preliminary deal over neighboring Macedonia’s name.

The protest was organized by the same hard-line groups that staged large rallies earlier this year in Thessaloniki and Athens against a potential compromise in the negotiations that ended with an agreement this month.

A group of protesters threw paint at a Holocaust memorial, and another damaged a cafeteria. Similar protests have turned violent in the past. Under the deal — which will take months to be finalized — Macedonia will be renamed “North Macedonia.”

It would end a 27-year dispute that started after Greece objected to its northern neighbor’s name, saying it implied claims on the adjacent Greek province of Macedonia and to Greece’s ancient heritage.

Hardliners on both sides of the border oppose the agreement, saying it offers too big concessions to the other country.

Border lake backdrops sealing of Greece, Macedonia name deal

June 17, 2018

PSARADES, Greece (AP) — The foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia endorsed an agreement to resolve a long fight over the Macedonia name Sunday during a signing ceremony filled with history and symbolism.

The Greek village of Psarades, located on the shores of Great Prespa Lake, was picked for the occasion since the borders of Greece and Macedonia meet in the water. The two countries’ prime ministers, Greece’s Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev, were there to see the deal they reached Tuesday get signed by their foreign ministers, Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Dimitrov, respectively.

Macedonians Zaev and Dimitrov arrived from across the lake on a small speedboat. Their Greek counterparts welcomed them with hugs on a jetty that was enlarged for the event. Under the agreement, Greece’s northern neighbor will be renamed North Macedonia to address longstanding appropriation concerns in Greece, which has a Macedonia province that was the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Greece in return will suspend the objections that prevented Macedonia from joining NATO and the European Union. The two countries’ leaders said the signing would be the start of closer relations between them and an example for all nations in the Balkans region.

Recalling his first meeting with Zaev this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tsipras told him, “Very few believed we would succeed” in ending “26 years of sterile dispute between our countries.”

“This is our own appointment with history,” Tsipras said, adding that Balkan peoples long have suffered from “the poison of chauvinism and the divisions of nationalist hatred.” Zaev, for his part, hailed an “end to decades of uncertainty.” Greece and Macedonia would henceforth be “partners and allies” in modeling successful diplomacy for the whole region, he said.

“May we stay as united forever as we are on this day,” Zaev said. Following the signing, the officials took a boat to the Macedonian lake resort of Oteshevo for a celebratory lunch. Police cordoned off all approaches to Psarades to prevent protesters from reaching the site. The agreement has aroused the fury of nationalists on both sides who claim, simultaneously, that it gave too much to the other side.

More than 4,000 Greek nationalists, who oppose another country having the Macedonia name, instead gathered near Pissoderi, a village 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. Banners in the crowd read “There is only one Macedonia and it is Greek” and “Macedonian identity can’t be given away.”

Several hundred marched to a nearby police blockade and began throwing rocks. Police responded with tear gas and stun grenades. The clashes went on into the afternoon. Greek police said 12 people were injured, including six police officers.

Church bells in Psarades and nearby villages rang sorrowfully throughout the ceremony. Most of the village’s 60 inhabitants watched from afar, clearly in a sour mood. “The church bells rang mournfully because something died today in Greece,” said local Orthodox Christian priest Irinaios Hajiefremidis. “They are taking from us our soul, our name.”

Hajiefremidis noted the ethnic and religious conflicts that generations of Greeks, Serbs and Bulgarians fought over the land that makes up present-day Macedonia. “Today, we commemorated Father George Papadopoulos, who was butchered on June 16, 1907 because he did not say Mass in Bulgarian,” he said.

Feelings run as strongly in Macedonia, but there are wide differences of opinion. “I didn’t follow the signing. Follow what? The capitulation? The vanishing of my identity?” retired doctor Vera Jovanov said. “I didn’t get their approval to be what I am. Nothing will be good in the future. Nothing good for Macedonia.”

Taxi driver Devan Stojanoski said “whatever we are called,” Macedonia’s people need “a chance for a better life and better standards.” “I do not care about the name any more. I am so disappointed about everything that I have stopped thinking and caring,” he said.

A demonstration against the deal attracted an estimated 3,000 people in the southern city of Bitola, Macedonian media reported. The rally was peaceful, but opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski of the VMRO-DPMNE party, the keynote speaker, used fighting words. He reiterated that his party would not support putting the new name in the Macedonian constitution, one of the terms of the deal.

“I, Hristijan Mickoski, speaking from the heart and with a clear mind…, never, at any price, even if that would cost (my) life, will I support this act of capitulation by Zoran Zaev,” Mickoski told the protesters.

A nighttime demonstration outside Macedonia’s parliament in the capital of Skopje turned violent when a group of people described by police and media as soccer hooligans started pelting officers with rocks and flares and tried to break through the police cordon. Police used tear gas and stun grenades to beat back the crowd and detained one person. Seven police officers and three protesters were reported injured as the atmosphere remained tense late Sunday.

The signing ceremony was recognized internationally as a significant event. Among those attending were U.N. Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Rosemary di Carlo, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

The United Nations’ mediator for the name dispute, Matthew Nimetz, also was on hand. Nimetz spent the last 24 years trying to mediate between Greece and Macedonia, first as an envoy of U.S. President Bill Clinton and then representing successive UN secretaries-general.

Nimetz congratulated Tsipras and Zaev, adding that they demonstrated “political courage and strategic vision” not often found. He received warm applause, not only for his often-frustrated effort to make the name dispute a thing of the past, but because Sunday was his 79th birthday Sunday.

Since Macedonia seceded from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece had objected to its use of the name “Macedonia” because it claimed that implied territorial designs on its own northern province of Macedonia.

Greek objections delayed U.N. recognition of Macedonia until April 1993 and then only as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). In 1995, the two countries signed an interim agreement after Macedonia agreed to modify its flag.

“I like to think positively and really hope this will be better. Finally, the agony ends and (membership in) EU and NATO will become real,” Suzana Eftiska, an art curator in Macedonia, said.

Associated Press writer Costas Kantouris reported this story in Psarades, Greece, and AP writer Jasmina Mironski reported from Skopje, Macedonia. AP writer Demetris Nellas in Athens contributed to this report.

Greek opposition leader urges lawmakers to vote against govt

June 16, 2018

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s main opposition leader urged lawmakers Saturday to support his no-confidence vote against the government over a deal to end a decades-old dispute with neighboring Macedonia over the latter’s name.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ left-led coalition government is expected to survive the vote, set for later Saturday. His government controls 154 of parliament’s 300 seats. The nationalist party that is a junior coalition partner says it will reject the motion despite vehemently opposing the name deal that Tsipras reached with his Macedonian counterpart.

“Today you are all mortgaging the future of the country,” said conservative New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who brought the no-confidence motion. Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who heads the junior coalition partner, the Independent Greeks party, stressed that Saturday’s vote was not on the Macedonia name deal itself, which his party opposes.

“Today we are not voting on the deal,” he said. Tsipras and Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev settled on a deal Tuesday that would rename Greece’s northern neighbor North Macedonia, while Athens would drop its objections to the country joining NATO and the European Union.

The agreement aimed to end a bitter dispute that has roiled the two countries’ relations since shortly after the small country declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Greece argued that the name “Macedonia” implied territorial claims on its province of the same name, which is the birthplace of the ancient warrior king Alexander the Great, and usurped its ancient Greek heritage and history.

But hardliners in both countries are furious at the deal, which they consider concedes too much to the other side. Thousands of people waving Greek flags protest in front of parliament during Saturday’s debate, chanting anti-government slogans. Minor scuffles broke out.

Still, the crowd was a far cry from the more than 100,000 people who turned out in the Greek capital months ago to protest compromises over Macedonia’s new name. The deal is tentatively set to be signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers Sunday in the Prespa Lakes region on the border. Protests are being planned nearby on both sides of the border.

“With the signing of the agreement between Macedonia and Greece, everyone will benefit,” Zaev told reporters in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov stressed the importance of the name deal, which would pave the way for the country to join NATO and the European Union.

“We have forces that are fighting for the future, we have forces that are fighting for the past,” Dimitrov said in Skopje. “We cannot change the past, we could the future.” The ratification process will take several months.

In Macedonia, the agreement must clear the hurdles of parliamentary ratification, a referendum in September and a constitutional amendment. Opponents include the conservative opposition party and the country’s president Gjorge Ivanov, who has said he will not sign off on the agreement. Zaev has said he will put the deal to a referendum in the fall.

In Greece, the deal only faces ratification in parliament once Macedonia has completed its part of the process. However, the right-wing Independent Greeks party opposes the deal and has said it will not support the agreement when it comes up for ratification in parliament. That would leave Tsipras dependent on opposition parties to pass the measure.

Jasmina Mironski in Skopje contributed.

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