Macedonia makes name change deal with Greece

Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute

Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute

The name would be the Republic of North Macedonia, subject to approval.

Greece and Macedonia reached an historic agreement Tuesday to end a bitter 27-year name dispute that had kept the smaller and younger country out of worldwide institutions such as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the two countries' prime ministers announced.

Macedonia will also amend its constitution to reflect the change.

The current prime ministers' attempts to end the dispute have faced dissent in both countries, leading to large protests by opponents of a compromise, threatening to split Greece's governing coalition and provoking a rift between Macedonia's prime minister and president. Our agreement includes Republic of North Macedonia for overall use, ' Zaev told reporters in the capital Skopje.

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.

In televised comments, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared the deal "a great diplomatic victory and a great historic opportunity" for the region to have "friendship, cooperation and co-development".

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Greece's Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia's Zoran Zaev made the announcements shortly after speaking by phone.

"Citizens are the ones who will make a decision through a referendum, and of course, the prime minister and the president should help them", Zaev said regarding the assessment of Macedonian President Ivanov that it was "irresponsible" to solve such a significant issue as the name of the state by telephone, the Macedonian Portal Portlab reported.

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

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday's "historic agreement" was "testament to many years of patient diplomacy", and called on the two countries' prime ministers to finalize the deal.

"I now call on both countries to finalise the agreement reached by the two leaders".

However, despite the what it seems an obvious sign of relief for both sides, the name resolution still has to be approved by the Macedonian people and the Greek parliament.

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Zaev said that the definition of the country's language will remain "Macedonian", as Skopje insisted in the talks. It was admitted to the United Nations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, because of Greece's objection.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted his support for the agreement: "Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible".

In 1994 Greece imposed an economic embargo on Macedonia and prevented it from using the port at Thessaloniki, Skopje's main trading post.

He said Macedonia would revise its constitution for the name change and that the deal "secures the historic heritage of ancient Greek Macedonia".

"I am keeping my fingers crossed", he said.

Officials in Albania are hailing the agreement between bordering Greece and Macedonia to end their decades-long name dispute as good for the whole Western Balkans region.

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