Macedonia reaches name change deal with Greece

Macedonia reaches name change deal with Greece

Tsipras' comments came shortly after a much-anticipated phone call with Zaev.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed the nation in a 5-minute televised address to announce the deal with his counterpart, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

After several meetings, Athens and Skopje agreed on Tuesday that the country will be renamed the "Republic of North Macedonia" and that Macedonia should amend its constitution accordingly.

Because of the reference to the conqueror, "previous Greek governments have claimed that the Republic of Macedonia- tiny, impoverished, and with virtually no military might - also has territorial designs on its province", NPR adds.

Greece had long demanded that Macedonia change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and heritage of the region, the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Greece had also vetoed its neighbor's bid to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

"We have been solving a two-and-a-half decade dispute ... that has been drowning the country", he said, adding that the deal "will strengthen the Macedonian identity".

Macedonia, the name of the ex-Yugoslav republic since its independence in 1991, has poisoned relations between Athens and Skopje for almost three decades.

Because of Greek objections, Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations under a provisional name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

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.

But Macedonia clearly liked the name, too, meaning that there's been a massive stand-off for nearly 30 years, which has seen many protests and conflict.

"[The deal] puts an end to the irredentism which their current constitutional name implies".

The two nations settled on a name- certain to incite controversy amongst many Greeks both inside the country, as well as outside her borders.

Both Albania and Macedonia hope to launch full membership negotiations with the European Union.

NATO and European Union officials welcomed the breakthrough, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said would help consolidate regional peace and stability. "Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible", he said.

The deal still needs to be approved by the Macedonian and Greek parliaments.

"In essence, the (deal) is acceptance of all Greek positions", VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski said.

The dispute has poisoned relations between the two neighbors since Macedonia's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Skopje also needs to revise its constitution, Tsipras said, before Greece ratifies the deal.

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