World

What's in a name? Macedonia dispute explained

What's in a name? Macedonia dispute explained

The prime ministers of Greece and Macedonia say they have agreed on "Republic of Northern Macedonia" as the new name for the Balkan country, ending a bitter 27-year dispute that had prevented the former Yugoslav republic from joining worldwide institutions such as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Tsipras' comments came shortly after a much-anticipated phone call with Zaev.

The new name will be used both domestically and internationally, while Macedonia will also amend its constitution as part of the deal.

Since Macedonia's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece has argued that the young country's name implied a claim to the territory and ancient heritage of Greece's northern region of Macedonia - birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.

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.

Zaev said resolving the longstanding issue would open Macedonia's access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU. "There is no way back", Zaev told a news conference.

"The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" is no more, stated Zaev, and added that the agreement envisions a confirmation of the Macedonian language without footnotes, and guarantees Macedonian ethnic and cultural identity and nationality.

After splitting from the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia was admitted into the United Nations in 1993 as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).




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

In a televised address, Tsipras said the 140 countries which had recognized the Balkan state simply as Macedonia would now recognize it as Republic of North Macedonia.

The accord still requires ratification by the two national parliaments and a referendum in Macedonia, a tough test for the leaders in both countries.

However, Mr Tsipras said, this will be contingent on Macedonia completing the constitutional changes. Tusk said: "Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible", he said.

"The name change will be implemented not only the country's worldwide relations but also domestically", Tsipras said adding that Skopje would need to revise its constitution. Athens say that name implies territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, whose right-wing Independent Greeks party is Tsipras' governing coalition partner, said he would oppose an agreement in a parliamentary vote, meaning the left-wing prime minister will need to seek support from political opponents.

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.


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