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Goodbye FYR, hello North! Macedonia and Greece resolve name dispute
13 June 2018, 09:25 | Devin Moran
Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute
The prime ministers of Greece and Macedonia have agreed on a new name for the latter country - the Republic of Northern Macedonia - ending a bitter 27-year dispute.
Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev made the announcements shortly after speaking by phone on Tuesday.
Announcing the agreement reached with neighbouring Greece over the change of name, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said resolving the long-standing issue would open his country's access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.
Greece argued that by calling itself Republic of Macedonia the neighboring country was stating a territorial claim of the Greek northern province, also called Macedonia. Macedonia is the birthplace of Alexander the Great.
European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officials have welcomed a deal between Greece and Macedonia resolving a decades-long dispute over the Balkan country's name.
Zaev said resolving the long-standing issue would open Macedonia's access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union. "We have a combined name with a geographic qualifier for all uses", Tsipras said as quoted by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) news agency.
The country was also accepted to the United Nations in 1993 as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). 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. "With this solution we are strengthening Macedonian ethnic and cultural identity, once and for all", he added.
Greece also demanded that Macedonia drops from its flag the rayed sun of Vergina, which it claimed was an ancient Greek symbol, as well as certain articles from its constitution.
The deal was welcomed by EU officials, with European Council president Donald Tusk tweeting his "sincere congratulations" to Mr Tsipras and Mr Zaev.
'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, ' NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.
'I am keeping my fingers crossed, ' he said. That challenge will still be a mountain to climb, as Greek Prime Minister Tsipras has not yet secured any support in parliament.
The dispute has poisoned relations between the two neighbors since Macedonia's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.
Stoltenberg said: "This will set Skopje on its path to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership".
The prime minister of Greece says his country has reached an agreement with Macedonia to end a decades-old dispute over the neighboring country's name.
"In essence, the (deal) is acceptance of all Greek positions", VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski said.
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