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

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 Tsipras said in a televised statement on Tuesday that the name change of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to "Republic of North Mecedonia" would be reflected both domestically and overseas.

"Macedonia will be called the Republic of Northern Macedonia [Severna Makedonija]", Zoran Zaev, the country's prime minister, announced Tuesday.

The nationality of the country's citizens will be listed on official documents as "Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of Macedonia".

Greece regards "Macedonia" as a term referring only to one of its northern regions and the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, and insists on the use of another name for its northern neighbor.

In Athens, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the deal "historic".

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In a televised address, Tsipras said the 140 countries which had recognized the Balkan state simply as Macedonia would now recognize it as Republic of Northern Macedonia. A meeting of the two soon may seal the deal, he said.

He said that the accord would allow a clear distinction between Greece's Macedonia province and the country.

"There is no way back", Zaev told a news conference.

European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officials have welcomed a deal between Greece and Macedonia resolving a decades-long dispute over the Balkan country's name. It also has to be ratified by both Macedonian and Greek parliaments.

Ancient Macedonia was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a point of pride to Greeks today.

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Skopje hopes that with a solution in hand, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will extend an invitation to join and the European Union will allow the start of Macedonian accession talks as early as this summer. Tusk said: "Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible", he said.

They said they looked forward to accession negotiations beginning with Skopje in June.

The two prime ministers are expected to sign the agreement over the next weekend.

The dispute has poisoned relations between the two neighbors since Macedonia's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. The new name will be used both domestically and internationally, with Macedonia making a relevant amendment to its Constitution, Zaev added.

Greek Defense 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. Nicholas Paphitis and Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Greece contributed.

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