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Greece and Macedonia reach deal in 27-year dispute over name
13 June 2018, 09:19 | Glen Norman
Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev addresses the media about the'name agreement with Greece
Greece and Macedonia have reached an agreement on how to end their long-running name dispute, a Greek government official said on Tuesday.
Greece's Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia's Zoran Zaev said the former Yugoslav republic's new name for both domestic and global purposes would be Republic of North Macedonia.
The name would be the Republic of North Macedonia, subject to approval.
Greece had long demanded that Macedonia change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of Greece's northern region of Macedonia - birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.
The dispute between the two neighbours had been an obstacle to Macedonia joining either the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance or the European Union.
Greece's parliament will be called to ratify the agreement after Macedonian lawmakers approve it, provided that Skopje fulfils preliminary European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation requirements to begin membership talks, Kotzias said.
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"There is no way back", Zaev said in a news conference.
The country was also accepted to the United Nations in 1993 as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Mr Tsipras said the deal met the concerns of Greece that a revised name for Macedonia be a "compound" name with a geographical qualifier.
But Greeks seem cool to any deal involving the continued use of the name "Macedonia" by their northern neighbour. 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.
"I now call on both countries to finalise the agreement reached by the two leaders".
"In other words, if the constitutional amendment is not successfully completed, then the invitation to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will be automatically rescinded and the accession talks with the European Union will not start", he said.
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European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted his support for the agreement: 'Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible'.
"This historic agreement is testament to many years of patient diplomacy, and to the willingness of these two leaders to solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long", said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement. "I am keeping my fingers crossed".
The two prime ministers are expected to sign the agreement over the next weekend.
"The name change will be implemented not only the country's global relations but also domestically", Tsipras said adding that Skopje would need to revise its constitution.
Organizers of past rallies in Greece's main cities against a compromise with Macedonia also expressed outrage at the deal, with one accusing Tsipras of "high treason".
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