Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Greece, Macedonia reach deal to end name dispute

Greece regards "Macedonia" as a term referring only to one of its northern regions and the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, and insists on the use of another name for its northern neighbor.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras [left] and his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev [right] in Sofia in May.

Greece's Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia's Zoran Zaev said the former Yugoslav republic's new name for both domestic and worldwide purposes would be Republic of Northern Macedonia.

Greece, an European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, has also cited the dispute to veto Macedonia's bid to join the two organizations.

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

"The chance is here and it must be seized, bravely, as this is the only patriotic way", Macedonian Prime Minisrter Zoran Zaev told a press conference in Skopje.

The Greek government has spent 27 years fighting with Macedonia over the use of the name, which references ancient Macedonia and by association its famous leader, Alexander the Great.

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

The dispute has poisoned relations between the two neighbors since Macedonia's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was briefing President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday afternoon.

Greece and Macedonia are involved in a longtime dispute over the name of the Republic of Macedonia.

Macedonia's new name will be put up for a referendum, to be held in autumn.

In the 1995 interim bilateral accord, Greece agreed that the term "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM) would be applied to Macedonia until the dispute is settled.

The current prime ministers' attempts to find a compromise have faced dissent in both countries, leading to large protests by opponents of a deal, threatening to split Greece's governing coalition and provoking a rift between Macedonia's prime minister and president. It also has to be ratified by both Macedonian and Greek parliaments.

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