Greece and Macedonia end 27-year feud over name

Greece and Macedonia end 27-year feud over name

Greece and Macedonia end 27-year feud over name

Macedonia agreed to change its name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia after reaching a historic deal with Greece on their decades-old dispute over the ex-Yugoslav republic's name, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Tuesday.

Mitsotakis said that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras did not have any "political legitimacy" to commit the country to a deal that is not approved by his junior government coalition partner, the Independent Greeks (ANEL).

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras shakes hands with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos before briefing him on developments on the name dispute with Macedonia, in Athens, Greece May 19, 2018.

Previous comments from the Macedonian side have indicated that solutions could involve adding a modifier to the country's official name, such as "Upper" or "Northern" to satisfy Athens, although nationalists in Macedonian have opposed such concessions. He added that Macedonia "cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia".

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.

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

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted his "sincere congratulations" to Greece's Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia's Zoran Zaev.

Ever since the Republic of Macedonia declared its independence in 1991, Greece has been fighting the country over its name. There were also rallies in Macedonia in spring, demanding the country's name to be left in place. "Our bid in the compromise is a defined and precise name, the name that is honorable and geographically precise - Republic of Northern Macedonia".

"This achieves a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbours and puts an end to the irredentism which their current constitutional name implies", he said.

"In other words, if the constitutional amendment is not successfully completed, then the invitation to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will be automatically rescinded and the accession talks with the European Union will not start", he said.

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'This historic agreement is testament to many years of patient diplomacy, and to the willingness of these two leaders to solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long, ' NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. "Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible", he said.

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement congratulating the two prime ministers "in reaching this historic agreement between their countries, which contributes to the transformation of the entire region of South-East Europe".

"In essence, the (deal) is acceptance of all Greek positions", VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski said. The dispute poisoned relations between the two neighbours, and the United Nations appointed a special envoy to mediate.

Mitsotakis earlier slammed the deal reached between Greece and FYROM, calling it a "bad deal" that recognizes a Macedonian ethnicity and language.

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