Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Athens, Skopje Reach Agreement on Constitutional Name of Macedonia

Greece, Macedonia 'Have A Deal' On Name Dispute Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute
Ellis Copeland | 13 June, 2018, 00:48

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.

Both governments have faced criticism ahead of the compromise and on Tuesday Macedonia's President Gjorge Ivanov signalled his concern.

Greek officials earlier said the list of potential names included "New Macedonia" and "Upper Macedonia", but after months of discussions "North Macedonia" was chosen.

People's nationality will be defined as "Macedonian/Citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia".

Greece has reached a deal on the name of its northern neighbor, which named itself Republic of Macedonia following the break up of Yugoslavia nearly three decades ago. He added that Macedonia "cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia".

Athens, which like all members of both organisations has a veto over admissions, objected to its neighbour's use of the name Macedonia, arguing that it, along with articles in the constitution, could imply territorial claims over its own northern region of the same name.

The prime minsters of Greece and Macedonia - Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev - had a phone call with each other on Tuesday, and shortly after announced the name change, with Macedonia set to amend its constitution as part of the pact. The European Commission in April approved the start of accession talks.

Macedonia hopes that resolving the name dispute will help clear the way for it to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. "And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans", he added.

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"We wholeheartedly congratulate Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev for their determination and leadership in reaching this historic agreement", said EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn in a joint statement.

Tsipras says the name would be used by the country both domestically and internationally.

In a nutshell, Greek people felt like the name belonged to them because it ties in with the country's heritage and the Macedon Kingdom - the king of which was Alexander the Great, who you'll have heard of.

The row between Athens and Skopje has been ongoing since 1991, when Macedonia seceded from Yugoslavia and declared its independence.

The proposed name change has been resisted by sections of the Macedonian public.

But Greeks seem cool to any deal involving the continued use of the name "Macedonia" by their northern neighbour.

Greek Defence 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.

In the 1995 interim bilateral accord, Greece agreed that the term "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM) would be applied to Macedonia until the dispute is settled.

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