Greek public opinion is not prepared for name solution

Two years ago, 57 percent, now 71.5 percent of the Greeks do not accept a complex name with the term Macedonia, according to the results of the 2016 and 2018 surveys carried out by the foreign policy foundation ELiAMEP. Part of the results were already published in the newspaper "Kathimerini" in February, as MIA released, while the complete survey was presented at a conference in Athens.

Asked: "Which solution would they accept for the name of the neighboring country?" In a survey conducted in January this year 22.5 percent answered a complex name, 71.5 percent did not accept a name with the term Macedonia, and 6 percent said they do not know or refused to respond. In 2016, on the same issue, within the same survey, the percentage of those who did not accept the term Macedonia was 57 percent, and for a composite name, 38 percent of those surveyed.

Regarding the importance of urgent name resolution, 53 percent answered that it is very important, while 2 years ago this figure was 58 percent.

Only one in two Greeks knows that the official position of the Greek government is a complex name, while one in three has the wrong information, they think that the official position is not a complex name.

The research was conducted from 23 to 25 January this year from the University of Thessaloniki and the Foreign Policy Foundation ELIAMEP, with a total of 1.071 persons.

Ioannis Armakolas, professor at the University of Thessaloniki in Macedonia and head of the South East Europe Program at the Greek Foreign Policy Foundation ELIAAMEP, in a conversation with MIA's correspondent in Athens, regarding the radical position of the majority of Greeks in difference of 2 years, says that the time period in which the survey was conducted, plays an important role, just as role plays and protests.

- In 2016 the research was in a period when the issue was not relevant in the public dialogue, in the public life, so there are a bit more relaxed thoughts. The new research was in a period of negotiations, in intensive consultations. It was right after the protest in Thessaloniki, which means that it played a role and in a way we see, in my opinion, the true picture. At the same time it's clear that there has not been any real work done in the preparation of public opinion in the last two years, says Armakolas, who at the conference in Athens presented the results.

The Greek professor believes that public opinion in Greece is not ready for a compromise with a complex name that would include the term Macedonia.

- Public opinion is not prepared, and the big role will be played by whether the opposition will cooperate. If the opposition cooperates actively and genuinely wants to help achieve a solution, then I think that public opinion will follow it to a great extent. But this requires co-operation and trust between the government and the opposition, something that not only does not exist, but relations are almost unfriendly. This is another reason why I am not particularly optimistic, says Professor Armakolas.

Regarding what needs to be done to change this negative attitude among citizens in Greece, the professor says that "public dialogue is very poisonous in Greece, especially towards those with which the country has differences or disagreements," and should speak more openly about what are international relations.


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