Friday, 19 October, 2018

Macedonia agrees to new name after 27-year dispute with Greece

Steven Clarke | 12 June, 2018, 21:54

Tsipras and Zaev spoke on the phone yesterday for an hour, and said they would continue their conversation today. Officials in Greece and Macedonia say Tuesday, June 12, 2018, they are close to reaching a landmark deal on a long-standing name dispute, to protect Greece's region of Macedonia, birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great, but the Greek coalition partner has vowed to vote against the proposed agreement.

"We have a deal".

Following the latest round of discussions, Macedonia is now set to be known as the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

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

News of the eagerly-awaited breakthrough comes after the two sides stepped up the UN-sponsored "name" talks at the start of this year, after Zaev's party came to power in 2017.

Due to the name dispute, Greece has vetoed all of attempts by Skopje to join both the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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Zaev said that the deal will be put to a referendum in Macedonia in the autumn.

On the timeline of the deal, Tsipras said that it would be first signed by the two countries' foreign ministers and then ratified by Macedonia's parliament.

"We wholeheartedly congratulate Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev for their determination and leadership in reaching this historic agreement between their countries, which contributes to the transformation of the entire region of South-East Europe", Hahn and Mogherini said in a joint statement.

He added that Macedonia would take a new "compound name with a geographical denominator", without spelling out the name.

The row dates back to 1991 when Macedonia declared independence but Greece has long objected to its neighbour's constitutional name - the Republic of Macedonia - because it fears it could imply territorial ambitions.

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

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