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Greek Deputy FM signs new viaduct plan in Prespes with North Macedonia

Featured Greek Deputy FM signs new viaduct plan in Prespes with North Macedonia

"I would like to thank North Macedonia's Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Dimitrov for the cooperation and the discussion that we had," said Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Sia Anagnostopoulou following talks with Dimitrov at Skopje on Friday.

"I would also like to hail the signing of the first agreement for the opening of a new viaduct in the Lemos district of Prespes. This is a significant agreement and is based on the clauses of the historical accord that we signed, the great Prespes Agreement," said Anagnostopoulou.

"Our cooperation will be beneficial for both sides of the Balkans peninsula," she concluded.

The agreement to reopen the long-defunct viaduct on the borderline separating Greece and North Macedonia after five decades, signed by Greece's and North Macedonia's ministers at Skopje on Friday, was hailed by the Mayor of Prespes Panayiotis Paschalidis, in a written statement.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sia Anagnostopoulou and North Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov signed the accord to reopen the border crossing at Lemos in the Prespes Lakes region at the Florina prefecture in northern Greece, to help boost local economy and ensure the continued protection of the Prespes National Park.

"It is a great day for Prespes today: the border crossing to Lemos is re-opened after 52 years," said Paschalidis, airing his thanks to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the current and former Foreign Ministers George Katrougalos and Nikos Kotzias, Deputy Foreign Minister Sia Anagnostopoulou, the prefecture of West Macedonia and the Greek Army.

"We hope that the agreement will soon be incorporated into the country's domestic legislation and we expect the broadest possible consensus from the country's political forces, in support of this wish by the people of Prespes," concluded Paschalidis.

The Lemos border crossing operated from 1959 until 1967 as per a Greek - Yugoslavian interborder accord that was ratified by the Greek Parliament in 1959. It allowed the import and sales of certain products in limited quantities as well as access to farmers, doctors and veterinary professionals in remote areas on both sides of the border. It became obsolete in 1967, when the military junta seized power in Greece.

In the year 2000, the prime ministers of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as it was then called, declared the entire Prespes region a protected Natural Park, committing both countries to the preservation of the local environment and the boost of local economy by continued collaboration.

Reopening the Lemos crossing is expected to regenerate local tourism, sustain active bilateral environmental commitments and boost the collaboration between Greece and North Macedonia at both regional and national level.