Sunday, 17 June, 2018

'We have a deal,' say Greece and Macedonia over name dispute

Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute Athens, Skopje Reach Agreement on Constitutional Name of Macedonia
Melinda Barton | 13 June, 2018, 09:19

Greece and Macedonia have reached a historic accord to resolve a decades-old dispute over the name of the tiny Balkan nation, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said.

Soon after his election in June 2017, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev promised a new push to settle the name dispute and relaunched the drive for European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership.

Under the newly achieved agreement, the country that has been known as the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia will be named North Macedonia.

Greece had long demanded the former Yugoslav republic 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. "There is no way back", Zaev told a news conference.

Macedonia, the name of the ex-Yugoslav republic since its independence in 1991, has poisoned relations between Athens and Skopje for almost three decades.

Macedonia has agreed to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

If you're planning to travel to Macedonia to see its lovely scenery and historic destinations, it might be good to check the exact name of the country before you leave.

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

Both governments have faced criticism ahead of the compromise and on Tuesday Macedonia's President Gjorge Ivanov signalled his concern.

Both Albania and Macedonia hope to launch full membership negotiations with the European Union.

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

On the timeline of the deal, Mr Tsipras said that it would be first signed by the two countries' foreign ministers and then ratified by Macedonia's Parliament.

"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", said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement. I believe in the democracy of the internet and want to keep this site and its enriching content free for everyone.

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

But before that, he said the agreement will be put to parliament for ratification in order not to waste any time and to allow Greece to lift its blockade on Macedonia's potential membership of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

But Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, whose right-wing Independent Greeks party is Tsipras' junior coalition partner, said he would reject the name agreement in a parliamentary vote. Athens say that name implies territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name.