Athens and Skopje reportedly reach deal in name dispute - English

A man holds a Greek flag next to a statue of Alexander the Great. Credit PA

A man holds a Greek flag next to a statue of Alexander the Great. Credit PA

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".

"There is no way back", Zaev told a news conference after speaking with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras by telephone.

Greece had objected to the name "Macedonia", fearing territorial claims on its eponymous northern region, as well as cultural appropriation of the Greek nature of Ancient Macedonia, a historically Greek province and important part of Ancient Greek history that has no direct connection between the modern citizens, who hail from a mixed Slavic heritage.

European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officials have welcomed a deal between Greece and Macedonia resolving a decades-long dispute over the Balkan country's name.

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.

Due to Greek opposition to its northern neighbor sharing a name with a Greek province, Macedonia has been recognized by the United Nations and other global organizations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Credit PA
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Credit PA

The leader of the junior partner in Greece's coalition government says he will vote against a proposed compromise in a name dispute with neighbor Macedonia, leaving left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to seek support from political opponents.

"[The deal] puts an end to the irredentism which their current constitutional name implies". Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in several major Greek cities, including Thessaloniki and Athens, calling for "Macedonia" to remain Greek.

The accord still requires ratification by the two national parliaments and a referendum in Macedonia, a tough test for the leaders in both countries.

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. I believe in the democracy of the internet and want to keep this site and its enriching content free for everyone. This will set Skopje on its path to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership. So if you like The Pappas Post and want to help, please consider becoming a "philotimo subscriber".

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement congratulating the two prime ministers "in reaching this historic agreement between their countries, which contributes to the transformation of the entire region of South-East Europe".

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

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