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Festival unites people from all three Balkan countries sharing Lake Prespa

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By Borjan Jovanovski
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Border between Greece and N Macedonia
Border between Greece and N Macedonia   -   Copyright  Euronews

Lake Prespa, divided by three Balkan states -- North Macedonia, Albania and Greece -- has been on the region's periphery, as 20th and 21st-century history saw the three countries separated by political disagreement.

Only four years ago, the Prespa Agreement was signed and the decades-long name dispute between Greece and North Macedonia was resolved.

Today the spirit of this political agreement is already visible.  Over the weekend of 18 and 19 June, the Meet Prespa Festival was held, uniting people from all three sides of the lake.

"It’s wonderful. It’s great to be here to celebrate this historic agreement with the people from the local communities from North Macedonia, from Greece and beyond," EU ambassador in North Macedonia David Geer said.

"It’s proof that lives can be improved and change can take place."

Artists, musicians, and food industry representatives from the three countries surrounding the lake took part at the still-closed border between North Macedonia and Greece.

Panagiotis Paskalidis, the mayor of the municipality of Prespa in Greece, said, "Yesterday we held a meeting within the programme INTEREG [the EU initiative meant to support cross-border cooperation] for the development of the region."

"I think that a significant step has been taken with regard to the border connection with the [Macedonian] Markova Noga crossing. It will bring people closer together. A music event is already taking place in Dupeni," Paskalidis said.

At the border point, Euronews saw that the next village was just one kilometre away across the actual border -- but to reach it, one would need to make a 180-kilometre trip. 

People from both sides of the line are waiting impatiently for North Macedonia and Greece to abide by their obligation from the Prespa Agreement to open the border crossing point as soon as possible.