Macedonia Has Just Changed Its Name To End Dispute With Greece

13 June, 2018, 09:16 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute

The leaders of Macedonia and Greece reached an agreement on Tuesday to end a 27-year feud surrounding the Balkan country's name.

Tsipras' comments came shortly after a much-anticipated phone call with Zaev.

The prime ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev have agreed to refer to Macedonia as the Republic of Northern Macedonia or Severna Makedonija, as it is written in the Macedonian language.

Earlier, the Greek Prime Minister announced the breakthrough on the name, saying the accord would allow a clear distinction between Greece's Macedonia province and the country. He added that Macedonia "cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia".

Greece had also vetoed its neighbor's bid to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

Zaev said resolving the longstanding issue would open Macedonia's access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

The new name will now have to be approved by Macedonians via a referendum, as well as the Republic's parliament.

Following the latest round of discussions, Macedonia is now set to be known as the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

It was only with the adoption of a provisional name - the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) - that the country was finally admitted into the United Nations in 1993.

The proposed name change has been resisted by sections of the Macedonian public.

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In September 1995 the neighbours signed an accord in NY opening the way for a normalisation of trade and political ties, but left the name dispute hanging.

Many Greeks felt their northern neighbor was trying to hijack Greece's ancient cultural heritage.

Athens and Skopje had been racing to agree the outline of a settlement before an European Union summit in late June, though any accord would need to clear a referendum in Macedonia and win approval from politicians in both countries.

Macedonia became a candidate for membership of the European Union in 2005 but Greece blocked the start of negotiations.

'This historic agreement is testament to many years of patient diplomacy, and to the willingness of these two leaders to solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long, ' NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

The deal was welcomed by EU officials, with European Council president Donald Tusk tweeting his "sincere congratulations" to Mr Tsipras and Mr Zaev. "Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible", he said.

In Athens, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the deal "historic".

The two prime ministers are expected to sign the agreement over the next weekend.

Hristijan Mickoski, president of Macedonia's opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, said: "Today is a hard day for the Republic of Macedonia".

Skopje also needs to revise its constitution, Tsipras said, before Greece ratifies the deal.

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