Greek PM says Macedonia's name change will be universal

Pauline Gross
June 13, 2018

Zaev said resolving the longstanding issue would open Macedonia's access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

The prime ministers of Macedonia and Greece agreed that it would be known as the "Republic of Northern Macedonia" if the proposal receives the necessary approvals from Macedonia's lawmakers and voters. The new name will be used both domestically and internationally, with Macedonia making a relevant amendment to its Constitution, Zaev added.

"By solving the name question, we are becoming a member of NATO", Zaev added.

"Today is a hard day for the Republic of Macedonia".

Greece had long demanded that its northern neighbour change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of the region in northern Greece named Macedonia - birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.

They also urged the Council to endorse opening EU accession talks with Macedonia, which the European Commission recommended in April.

The name dispute has poisoned relations between the two countries since Macedonia's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and has prevented Macedonia from joining global institutions such as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

"We have a deal, I'm happy because we have a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side", said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. "And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans".

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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 Northern Macedonia.

"We have a deal", Mr Tsipras 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.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on May 19 that the name of the "Republic of Ilinden Macedonia" could be a possible compromise to be reached between Skopje and Athens in a dispute over the name of the country.

After the final agreement has been reached, a joint statement for the Greek and Macedonian public is expected to be published. By adopting the same identity in 1991, the new nation comprised by a Slavic population who have no historical or cultural connection to the Ancient Macedonians from whom the name derives infuriated many Greeks, who suspected their northern neighbor of territorial ambitions and cultural appropriation.

Most opposition parties have criticised Tsipras's tactics, and even his coalition partner, the right-wing Independent Greeks, have said they will not back an accord that allows the continued use of "Macedonia".

He reportedly proposed four options to settle the long-standing dispute, including Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Upper Macedonia, Republic of Vardar Macedonia and Republic of Macedonia.

A resolution of the dispute would see Greece lift objection to Macedonia's accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Other reports by GizPress

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