Greece and Macedonia sign deal to end decades-long name dispute

20 Junio, 2018, 02:25 | Author: Kelly Blake
  • Greece and Macedonia sign deal to end decades-long name dispute

Conservative New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had brought the no-confidence motion, argued that a vote in favour of the government was a vote in favour of the name deal.

Outside the parliament building, police used tear gas against protesters opposing the name deal, with some of the demonstrators attempting to scale stairs leading to the chamber.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament, brought over a deal to end a decades-old dispute with neighbouring Macedonia concerning the latter's name.

Tsipras and Zaev last week beat the odds to announce a deal that will see the tiny Balkan state renamed as the Republic of North Macedonia.

Athens had long objected to it being called Macedonia because it has its own northern province of the same name, which in ancient times was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire - a source of intense pride to modern-day Greeks. The outcome is far from certain because of opposition in both countries. The protesters came to the region in 80 buses and chanted slogans against the deal, according to local media. Minor scuffles broke out.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said the agreement will "set Skopje on its path to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership" and praised the two leaders for their willingness to "solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long".

For many in Macedonia the change of the name by authorities is tantamount to treason, and the loss of the country's identity and historical and cultural heritage.

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"This is a mutually beneficial agreement which fully respects the values and the principles of the people", Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said ahead of the deal signing, which he attended with his counterpart Zoran Zaev, Greek news outlet Ekathimerini reported.

"With the signing of the agreement between Macedonia and Greece, everyone will benefit", Zaev told reporters in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia.

"We are proud of today's agreement. may we stay as united forever as we are on this day", he said. It also needs to be ratified by the Greek parliament, a process likely to take months.

Macedonian President George Ivanov addresses to the media in the Presidential office in Skopje, Macedonia, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Zaev has said he will put it to a referendum in the fall.

The accord aims to start unravelling one of the world's longest diplomatic disputes, which began 27 years ago with Macedonia's declaration of independence but whose roots date back centuries.

In a paradox, Tsipras' nationalist coalition partner, the Independent Greeks party, are expected to support the government on Saturday but reject the Macedonia deal whenever it goes to a vote.

In tandem with the signing ceremony, Macedonia's main opposition VMRO DPMNE party planned a protest march in the southern town of Bitola.

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