Macedonia PM hails 'historic' deal with Greece to resolve name row

13 Junio, 2018, 13:32 | Author: Kelly Blake
  • Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute

Greek and Macedonian governments have agreed on the name "Republic of Northern Macedonia", stated Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on a press conference on Tuesday. We have a historic solution after two and a half decades.

In addition, the name North Macedonia will be used internationally in English instead of Severna Macedonia as some hoped.

"I'm happy because we have a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side", he told Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during a televised meeting.

"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.

Veteran United Nations diplomat Matthew Nimetz, who has been a mediator in the name dispute since 1994, hailed the "leadership, vision and determination" of the foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia, who have negotiated for months.

The name-change is an effort to prevent territorial claims to Greece's northern region of Macedonia.

So Greece calls its neighbor Skopje, after the capital, or Fyrom, the acronym for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the provisional name under which it was admitted to the United Nations.

Zaev said the deal would open the way for the tiny Balkan nation's eventual membership of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, now blocked by Greece's objections to its use of the name Macedonia.

In 2001, Greece, the only country in the region with EU, NATO and eurozone membership, expressed support for Skopje, faced by an armed conflict with ethnic Albanian rebels.

If the name change is approved by the Macedonian people and the parliaments of both nations, then it would pave the way for the tiny Balkan nation's eventual North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union memberships.

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"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.

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

In Skopje meanwhile, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said earlier in the day that he remained opposed to a constitutional change that would likely be included in the draft deal, to provide an assurance that the name change was permanent and binding for domestic and worldwide use.

However, passing the name "Northern Macedonia" through Greek parliament might turn out tricky as most parties previously rejected any kind of compromised on the issue.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras [left] and his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev [right] in Sofia in May.

Greece will then back invitations for Macedonia to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and start negotiations on joining the EU.

The deal was welcomed by EU officials, with European Council president Donald Tusk tweeting his "sincere congratulations" to Mr Tsipras and Mr Zaev.

But under the Romans, the province of Macedonia was expanded to include territory in modern-day Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania.

"It will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans", he said.

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