Monday, 18 March, 2019

Macedonian parliament ratifies name change to North Macedonia before Greece's final call

Demonstrators wave flags in front of the parliament building in Skopje on 23 June 2018 during a protest against the new name of the country the Republic of North Macedonia Macedonia Lawmakers Set Again To Debate Name Change Amid Uncertainty
Pablo Mccormick | 12 January, 2019, 21:46

The Greek parliament will now have to do the same.

The opposition VMRO-DPMNE party has asked for an early election.

The nation, which emerged from the break-up of Yugoslavia, will become North Macedonia, ending a 27-year dispute with neighbouring Greece, which has complained that the name Macedonia implied territorial claims on its northern region of the same name as well as its cultural heritage.

He secured the required two-thirds parliamentary majority to push the constitutional change through. Representatives of the opposition conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, who said the agreement concedes too much to Greece, boycotted the vote.

Greece has blocked the path to both worldwide organisations since Macedonia broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 because, it said, the name Macedonia should apply exclusively to its own northern province.

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Zaev, who came to power in May 2017, is now looking to his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras to uphold his end of the deal, which the pair brokered previous year.

Macedonia's rightwing president, Gjorge Ivanov, has been a vocal opponent of the proposed name change and continues to speak out against it.

Friday's vote brought an end to months of political bickering in Macedonia that included a controversial consultative referendum in September and a long parliamentary battle.

"A new historical chapter in our statehood has been written this evening", the Macedonian government said in a statement.

The junior coalition partner in Greece's government opposes the deal, but Tsipras has voiced confidence he will be able to secure ratification with the backing of opposition lawmakers.

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Tsipras has said he sees the Macedonia deal as "one of his greatest legacies" as premier, second only to leading Greece out of the bailout era.

Neighbouring Albania's foreign minister also congratulated Macedonia on the vote, which he called "a clear demonstration of statesmanship" that would unlock a path to the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Macedonia's parliament has approved constitutional changes to rename the country North Macedonia, under a deal with neighboring Greece that will clear the way for Macedonia to join NATO and potentially the European Union.

Eighty-one lawmakers voted in favor of the constitutional amendments.

For the deal to come into effect, Greece's parliament must now convene in coming weeks to ratify it.

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