Macedonia Gets New Name, Ending 27-Year Dispute With Greece

Спор о названии Македонии близится к завершению

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, its official United Nations designation, will change its name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia, but will be known colloquially as Northern Macedonia under the accord.

A decades-long dispute over the name of the tiny nation of Macedonia at last reached a peaceful conclusion Tuesday, with the Balkan nation agreeing with Greece to change its name to "North Macedonia".

Greece regards "Macedonia" as a term referring only to one of its northern regions and the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, and insists on the use of another name for its northern neighbor.

The former Yugoslav republic will now be officially known as the Republic of Northern Macedonia. "The negotiations and the successful proposal for solution became possible after the Government of Zoran Zaev came in to power in Skopje, ending the years of pointless denial of the conservatives in Skopje".

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

Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos, whose right-wing Independent Greeks party is Mr 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.

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.

Athens and Skopje had been racing to agree the outline of a settlement before an European Union summit in late June, though any accord would need to clear a referendum in Macedonia and win approval from politicians in both countries.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday's "historic agreement" was "testament to many years of patient diplomacy", and called on the two countries' prime ministers to finalize the deal.

But Macedonia feared that a name change could have a negative impact on the national identity of its people, the majority of whom simply call themselves "Macedonians".

The deal would also require Macedonia revising its constitution.

"Today is a hard day for the Republic of Macedonia". Both countries agreed that the new name would be used both internationally and bilaterally.

European Council President Donald Tusk congratulated both sides.

"I am encouraged by the dedication of both governments to deliver mutual benefits for all their citizens through the establishment of a strategic partnership as a basis for intensified cooperation across all sectors", he said in a statement.

Greece had long demanded that Macedonia change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and heritage of the region, the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Officials in Albania are hailing the agreement between bordering Greece and Macedonia to end their decades-long name dispute as good for the whole Western Balkans region.

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