Tsipras and Zaev reportedly in the running for Nobel Peace Prize

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (R) and FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (L) join their hands in the village of Psarades, Florina, Greece, 17 June 2018. The foreign ministers of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Dimitrov, and the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the name dispute signed a historic agreement on 17 June 2018 for resolving the decades-long issue during a lakeside signing ceremony in Prespes, where the borders of Greece, FYROM and Albania meet. [Nikos Arvanitidis/EPA/EFE]

The prime ministers of Greece and Macedonia, Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev, are among the favourites to become nominees for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, according to a Swedish journalist specialised in covering the secretive decision-making of the Nobel committee.

Tsipras and Zaev reached a deal in June on a new name for Macedonia, which has been the subject of dispute between the two Balkan neighbours for more than two decades. Greece opposes the name ‘Macedonia’ and has blocked Skopje’s efforts to join NATO and the EU.

Wiktor Nummellin, Swedish TT news agency’s special correspondent for Nobel Prizes, told the Greek agency ANA that the two were “mentioned” for the prize, although it was hard to confirm who is nominated because of the secrecy of the procedure.

“Every year there is a lot of speculation and discussion about who will get the Peace Prize and what kind of area they would like to put attention to. This year they are talking a lot about the Korean peninsula, they are talking about the refugee situation, the situation between Greece and FYROM with the negotiations”, he said, as quoted by ANA.

FYROM [Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia] has been Skopje’s provisional name, under which it was admitted to the United Nations in 1993, pending a mutually acceptable solution with Greece.

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Nummellin also highlighted that a lot of people in the Nobel committee believed this would be “the perfect Peace Prize”. “It would be a perfect Peace Prize to give it for instance to the prime ministers of both countries, or someone else who has been negotiating,” he stated.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini would certainly love to be part of the trio, but the negotiations were supervised by the UN Special Representative for the name dispute, US diplomat Matthew Nimetz.

Numellin said the Nobel Committee “really likes the situation when people have been negotiating, they are coming to an agreement, putting it on the table, instead of trying to solve a war crisis or sanctions”.

However, given the current situation, where there is no certainty that the deal will be approved, following a referendum in Macedonia with a low turnout, a decision to honour Tsipras and Zaev was “more difficult”, he added.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2018 will be awarded on Friday 5 October at 11.00 Brussels time. It is unlikely, however, that the Parliament in Skopje could pass the agreement before that.

Last year the Nobel committee had reportedly envisioned awarding the trio that negotiated the Iran nuclear deal – former US secretary of state John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Mogherini.

But the prize went to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), apparently chosen for being close to the subject, but less of an irritant to US President Donald Trump.

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