Macedonia and Greece reach agreement on "Northern Macedonia"

Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute

Athens, Skopje Reach Agreement on Constitutional Name of Macedonia

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that he had reached a "good agreement" with Skopje on the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia, adding that it satisfied all of Athens' preconditions.

Greece had long demanded the former Yugoslav republic 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 Greek government has spent 27 years fighting with Macedonia over the use of the name, which references ancient Macedonia and by association its famous leader, Alexander the Great.

The issue has been heated, and one with very real repercussions for Macedonia: It hasn't been able to join the European Union or North Atlantic Treaty Organisation because Greece opposed its name.

"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". Our agreement includes Republic of North Macedonia for overall use, ' Zaev told reporters in the capital Skopje.

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

Thankfully, it sounds like Greece and Macedonia have finally reached a resolve, thanks to the new name of the Republic of North Macedonia - or "Severna Makedonija" in Macedonian. "Our bid in the compromise is a defined and precise name, the name that is honorable and geographically precise - Republic of Northern Macedonia".

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". Both its language and people would continue to be known as Macedonian, he said.

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.

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

The prime minister of Greece says his country has reached an agreement with Macedonia to end a decades-old dispute over the neighboring country's name. The Greek parliament will also have to agree to the proposal.

Veteran United Nations diplomat Matthew Nimetz, who has been a mediator in the name dispute since 1994, hailed the "leadership, vision and determination" of the foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia, who have negotiated for months.

In 2001, Greece, the only country in the region with EU, NATO and eurozone membership, expressed support for Skopje, faced by an armed conflict with ethnic Albanian rebels.

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

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