Greece and Macedonia reach deal to end decades-old name dispute


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev said the former Yugoslav republic's new name for both domestic and worldwide purposes would be Republic of North Macedonia.

Macedonia agreed to change its name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia after reaching a historic deal with Greece on their decades-old dispute over the ex-Yugoslav republic's name, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Tuesday. We have a historic solution after two and a half decades.

That is because the Balkan nation will be holding a referendum later this year to officially change its name to the Northern Republic of Macedonia.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves the Presidential Palace following his meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos (not pictured) in Athens, Greece, June 12, 2018.

The party's leader Hristijan Mickoski said he would not support changes to the "constitutional name" of Macedonia.

In a statement, Nimetz congratulated the two prime ministers on reaching an agreement: "I have no doubt this agreement will lead to a period of enhanced relations between the two neighbouring countries and especially between their people".

Under the deal between the two prime ministers, the country will now be called The Republic of North Macedonia.

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

Greece has long objected to its northern neighbour being called Macedonia because it has its own northern province of the same name.

Greece will lift its objections to Macedonia's accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union once the dispute is resolved.

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

"By solving the name question, we are becoming a member of NATO", Zaev added. "I am keeping my fingers crossed".

Greek media previously reported today that Zaev is going to talk with Tsipras and confirm the agreement that they accomplished earlier today.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the deal ends any claim he believes Macedonia may have had on Greek territory.

Skopje hopes that with a solution in hand, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will extend an invitation to join and the European Union will allow the start of Macedonian accession talks as early as this summer.

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

"The European Union perspective of the Western Balkans ... remains the most powerful stabilising force for the region", they added.

It also has to be ratified by both Macedonian and Greek parliaments.

Greece's Macedonia is a northern region that includes the country's second city, Thessaloniki, whereas Macedonia's Macedonia is, well, a 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.