Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Macedonia agrees to name change

Macedonia agrees to name change

"After months of negotiation we have managed to reach a deal that will solve our longstanding difference over the name of our neighbour", Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, said.

"There is an agreement". We have a historic solution after two and a half decades.

This is the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, which is in the capital, Skopje.

The former Yugoslav republic will now be officially known as the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

A spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement commending the countries for reaching the agreement.

FYR Macedonia and Greece call it truce on the 27 year old ongoing name dispute.

Athens, which has a northern region also called Macedonia bordering on the ex-Yugoslav republic, objected to the name, demanding it be changed.

Zaev said that the deal will be put to a referendum in Macedonia in the autumn.

"Today is a hard day for the Republic of Macedonia".

When Macedonia peacefully gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece balked at the name, saying it implied territorial ambitions toward Greece. He has to muster a two-thirds parliamentary majority to change the country's constitution.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

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Tsipras insisted the Macedonian government needed to get parliamentary approval otherwise "NATO's invitation is canceled and negotiations with the European Union will not move". European Union President Donald Tusk congratulated the leaders of the neighbouring states, while signalling that more work was needed to finish the deal. I believe in the democracy of the internet and want to keep this site and its enriching content free for everyone.

"A deal could be announced even today", said an unnamed government official cited by Reuters.

Both governments have faced criticism ahead of the compromise and on Tuesday Macedonia's President Gjorge Ivanov signalled his concern. The VMRO party was defeated by Zaev's Social Democrat party in elections previous year.

Protests in Greece have existed for decades but were renewed earlier this year following UN-mediated talks between the two countries to try and resolve the issue that did not yield an agreement.

The decades-old dispute between the two neighbors had been an obstacle to Macedonia joining either the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance or the European Union.

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.

"The acceptance of the Macedonian language and nationality is an unacceptable national retreat", he said.

Stoltenberg said: "This will set Skopje on its path to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership".

The doors to further Western expansion in the Balkans have been thrown wide open by a seeming breakthrough on the Macedonia name dispute.

Tsipras said if Macedonia does not change its constitution to reflect the new name, Greece will again block Macedonian membership in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

Greece had long demanded that Macedonia change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of Greece's northern region of Macedonia - birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great. In Greece, the talks have sparked a confrontation between the embattled Tsipras and his main coalition partner, the Independent Greeks, whose leader and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos reiterated on Tuesday his party won't back any agreement that includes the term "Macedonia". The country was also accepted to the United Nations in 1993 as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The Bulgarian dialect spoken there was gradually filled with Serbian words.

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