- Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:20 PM
Skopje, 18 November 2017 (MIA) - Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris says he is unmoved by reactions in Greece over his use of name 'Macedonia' during a visit to Skopje, highlighting that calls by opposition MPs and media go against efforts for improvement of bilateral relations.
"This strange noise that resulted from me saying 'Macedonia' leaves me completely unmoved, because they only harm the efforts to develop better relations. I talked to Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias prior to my departure and he urged us to promote such cooperation with Skopje", Boutaris told reporters.
According to him, the visit came after Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov met with Boutaris during the former's visit to Thessaloniki.
"We discussed many topics then and he invited us after the completion of the local elections. I gladly accepted, so that we revive relations with the neighboring country, i.e. Skopje. Over one million people visit the Thessaloniki broader area either for vacation, entertainment or other purpose, and this is very important for the city. We cannot become a metropolis on the Balkans only by words. You need to develop good relations and be a step ahead", stressed Boutaris.
Speaking in English after a meeting with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Boutaris proposed that the next meeting of the prime ministers of Greece and 'Macedonia' is held in Thessaloniki.
Greek media have commented that the Thessaloniki mayor has again made the same mistake of using name 'Macedonia', which he also uttered in an interview for a TV station during last year's visit to Skopje. Several opposition MPs have also accused Boutaris of "supporting the historically erroneous positions of Skopje", and giving statements that are "nationally dangerous". ik/14:16
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