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Greece and Macedonia solve bitter 27-year name row

© Sakis Mitrolidis, AFP | Protesters wave Greek flags during a protest against the use of the name Macedonia on June 6, 2018, in Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great, northern Greece.

Video by Bryan QUINN

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2018-06-13

The prime ministers of Greece and Macedonia say they have agreed on "Republic of Northern Macedonia" as the new name for the Balkan country, ending an acrimonious 27-year dispute.

Greece's Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia's Zoran Zaev made the announcements shortly after speaking by phone. The new name will be used both domestically and internationally, while Macedonia will also amend its constitution as part of the deal.

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 over the “Macedonia” name had been a thorn in relations of the two countries at least since 1991, when Macedonia broke away from former Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.

The row has stymied Macedonian attempts to join the European Union and the NATO military alliance in a region where the two organizations jostle for influence with Russia.

Tsipras and his Macedonian counterpart, Zoran Zaev, discussed the issue by phone on Tuesday. Both were expected to issue public statements later in the day.

Tsipras said the deal met the concerns of Greece that a revised name for Macedonia be a “compound” name with a geographical qualifier. One of the names under discussion was Northern Macedonia, diplomatic sources said.

Athens and Skopje had been racing to agree the outline of a settlement before an EU summit in late June, though any accord would need to clear a referendum in Macedonia and win approval from lawmakers in both countries. A NATO summit is scheduled for mid-July.

The agreement would be submitted for ratification to Greece’s parliament only if Macedonia met its side of the deal, Tsipras said.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)

Date created : 2018-06-12

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