Greece, Macedonia 'Have A Deal' On Name Dispute

"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".

The prime ministers of Macedonia and Greece agreed that it would be known as the "Republic of Northern Macedonia" if the proposal receives the necessary approvals from Macedonia's lawmakers and voters.

"This will set Skopje on its path to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership".

People's nationality will be defined as "Macedonian/Citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia".

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama called his Macedonian and Greek counterparts "two progressive leaders" and used their Twitter handles to give their praise, tweeting: "Balkans are today a better place thnx to you both".

Greece argued that by calling itself Republic of Macedonia the neighboring country was stating a territorial claim of the Greek northern province, also called Macedonia.

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. Macedonia, for its part, will agree to the name change if Greece will stop blocking its efforts to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union. So if you like The Pappas Post and want to help, please consider becoming a "philotimo subscriber".

Last month, at an European Union summit in Bulgaria, Zaev and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras discussed a resolution, and the two spoke twice on the phone this week before announcing the deal.

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.

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 southeast Europe".

"We have a deal", Mr Tsipras said.

Greece had long demanded that Macedonia change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and heritage of the region, the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

The row between Athens and Skopje has been ongoing since 1991, when Macedonia seceded from Yugoslavia and declared its independence.

Mr Tsipras said the deal met the concerns of Greece that a revised name for Macedonia be a "compound" name with a geographical qualifier.

Most opposition parties have criticised Tsipras's tactics, and even his coalition partner, the right-wing Independent Greeks, have said they will not back an accord that allows the continued use of "Macedonia". First the Macedonian parliament and people have to vote on the proposed new name.

Athens, which has a northern region also called Macedonia bordering on the ex-Yugoslav republic, objected to the name, demanding it be changed.

A resolution of the dispute would see Greece lift objection to Macedonia's accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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