Macedonia and Greece reach agreement on "Northern Macedonia"

Спор о названии Македонии близится к завершению

"Our investment in the compromise is a definition of a specified Macedonian name for our country, a dignified and geographically defined name", Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said. We have a historic solution after two and a half decades.

Greek officials earlier said the list of potential names included "New Macedonia" and "Upper Macedonia", but after months of discussions "North Macedonia" was chosen. "I'm happy because we have a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side", Tsipras said in televised comments on June 12.

Macedonia has just changed its name. and to be honest, we're all a little confused.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, whose right-wing Independent Greeks party is Tsipras' governing coalition partner, said he would oppose an agreement in a parliamentary vote, meaning the left-wing prime minister will need to seek support from political opponents.

"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.

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"This achieves a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbours and puts an end to the irredentism which their current constitutional name implies", he said.

"Maybe what has the most historic gravity and value for Greece (is that) according to this accord. our northern neighbours don't have, and can not assert, any link to the ancient Greek culture of Macedonia", Tsipras said in a televised address on Tuesday evening.

After splitting from the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia was admitted into the United Nations in 1993 as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

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.

Zaev said resolving the longstanding issue would open Macedonia's access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

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"I am keeping my fingers crossed", he said.

The next step, he said, is for the deal to be signed by the foreign ministries of both countries.

In February, as NPR's Joanna Kakassis reported, more than 140,000 Greeks marched to parliament in Athens as part of a "Macedonia is Greece" rally, chanting that the name "is in our soul".

"[Macedonia] can not and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia".

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

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Skopje hopes that with a solution in hand, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will extend an invitation to join and the European Union will allow the start of Macedonian accession talks as early as this summer. And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans, ' he added.

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