World

Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute

Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute

After splitting from the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia was admitted into the United Nations in 1993 as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). A former republic of Yugoslavia, Macedonia broke away in 1991, and its name is recognized by the vast majority of countries around the world, including the U.S. Because of the reference to the conqueror, "previous Greek governments have claimed that the Republic of Macedonia- tiny, impoverished, and with virtually no military might - also has territorial designs on its province", NPR adds.

The final decision is expected from the European Council at the end of the month.

The long-running dispute has centred on Greece's objection to Macedonia's name, which has prompted it to block its neighbour from joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union until it is changed.

"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. "And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans". "Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible", he said.

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn, commissioner for European Union enlargement, said they looked forward to accession negotiations beginning with Skopje in June.

"This achieves a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbours and puts an end to the irredentism which their current constitutional name implies", he said.

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




Zaev said the deal would be signed this weekend, and a voter referendum would be held in the fall.

Neighbouring Macedonia and Greece announced on Tuesday they have reached a historic compromise solution to their decades-long name dispute, agreeing that Macedonia will use the composite name "Republic of North Macedonia".

In Skopje, meanwhile, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said earlier in the day that he remained opposed to a constitutional change that would likely be included in the draft deal, to provide an assurance that the name change was permanent and binding for domestic and worldwide use. He did not, however, spell out what the name will be.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrives for the swearing-in ceremony of his government at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece, September 23, 2015.

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.

The proposed name change has been resisted by sections of the Macedonian public.


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