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Macedonia and Greece Announce Historic 'Name' Deal

Macedonia and Greece Announce Historic 'Name' Deal

The new name - which in Macedonian is Severna Makedonija - will be used both domestically and internationally, while Macedonia will also amend its constitution as part of the deal.

Macedonia has agreed to change its name to Northern Macedonia in order to end a decades-old row with Greece, which among other things prevented the former Yugoslav republic from joining the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

"Dear fellow citizens, we have [made] a historic decision..."

A former republic of Yugoslavia, Macedonia broke away in 1991, and its name is recognized by the vast majority of countries around the world, including the U.S.

"We have a deal, I'm happy because we have a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side", he said.

"Our bid in the compromise is a defined and precise name, the name that is honourable and geographically precise - Republic of Northern Macedonia".

"Macedonia will be called the Republic of Northern Macedonia [Severna Makedonija]", Zoran Zaev, the country's prime minister, announced Tuesday.

Greece will then back invitations for Macedonia to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and start negotiations on joining the European Union.

Athens has long objected to its neighbour's constitutional name - the Republic of Macedonia - because it fears it could imply territorial ambitions.

The issue has been heated, and one with very real repercussions for Macedonia: It hasn't been able to join the European Union or North Atlantic Treaty Organisation because Greece opposed its name. "This will set Skopje on its path to Nato membership and it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider western Balkans", Nato head Jens Stoltenberg said as the news came out.

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Zaev said resolving the long-standing issue would open Macedonia's access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union. "I am keeping my fingers crossed".

In Skopje meanwhile, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said earlier in the day that he remained opposed to a constitutional change that would likely be included in the draft deal, to provide an assurance that the name change was permanent and binding for domestic and worldwide use.

This is according to the Greek media, Tanjug reported on Tuesday.

Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, a hardline junior coalition partner in Tsipras's government, earlier dismissed talk of a deal, saying there was "no chance" Zaev could get it approved.

They also urged the Council to endorse opening EU accession talks with Macedonia, which the European Commission recommended in April.

Greece is to ratify the deal in parliament after Macedonia has made the necessary changes to its constitution, Tsipras said.

Tsipras said in a televised statement that Macedonia's name change would allow a clear distinction between Greece's province of Macedonia and the neighbouring country.

But nationalist forces could try to upset the apple cart in Macedonia, with the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party in Skopje rushing to denounce the deal.

Greece has a northern province called Macedonia, also the cradle of ancient Macedonia and its most famous leader, Alexander the Great.


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