Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Macedonia agrees to new name after 27-year dispute with Greece

Macedonia agrees to new name after 27-year dispute with Greece

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

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. He added that Macedonia "cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia".

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.

"By solving the name question, we are becoming a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".

The new name will now need to be approved by the a referendum that will be orchestrated by the central government on Skopje, as well as by Greece's parliament.

Today the 27-year impasse ended as two nations finally came to a resolution: The former Yugoslav republic is getting a new name, the Republic of North Macedonia.

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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.

Greece and Macedonia are involved in a longtime dispute over the name of the Republic of Macedonia.

In September 1995 the neighbours signed an accord in NY opening the way for a normalisation of trade and political ties, but left the name dispute hanging. 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.

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

Macedonia became a candidate for membership of the European Union in 2005 but Greece blocked the start of negotiations.

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

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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. So if you like The Pappas Post and want to help, please consider becoming a "philotimo subscriber".

Mr Tsipras added: "The name change will be implemented not only the country's worldwide relations but also domestically". The dispute poisoned relations between the two neighbours, and the United Nations appointed a special envoy to mediate.

In a statement, the Party of European Socialists (PES) welcomed the agreement reached by the two Prime Ministers.

The main opposition party in Macedonia, the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, accused Zaev of "capitulating" to Greece.

The deal would also require Macedonia revising its constitution.

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