Greece, Macedonia resolving long-standing name row

Greece’s northern neighbor to re-name itself Republic of Northern Macedonia, says Greek PM Alexis Tsipras
ATHENS: Greece has resolved a long-standing dispute with its northern neighbor, which is set to change its name from Macedonia to the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Tuesday.
Tsipras met with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos after he spoke with his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev over the phone.
“We have recently reached an agreement with the prime minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which has put us in turmoil for many years,” Tsipras said.
“We have reached a good agreement that meets all our conditions,” he added.
He said that after Macedonia’s Constitution makes the name change official, Greece’s parliament will approve the deal.
Greece, which is both a NATO and EU member, has long opposed the official name of its northern neighbor, noting that there is a region in northern Greece also called Macedonia.
Due to Greece’s veto power, the dispute has been one of the main hurdles to Macedonia’s ambitions to join NATO and the EU.
Negotiations between Macedonia and Greece have stepped up recently, as the new government in Skopje has sought progress in its bid to join NATO and the EU.
Despite the dispute between Athens and Skopje, many countries, including Turkey, recognize Macedonia’s present name.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ personal envoy for the dispute “warmly” welcomed the resolution, congratulating the parties for the “successful conclusion” to the row.
“I have no doubt this agreement will lead to a period of enhanced relations between the two neighbouring countries and especially between their people,” Matthew Nimetz said in a statement, using the British spelling for “neighboring”.
“I am encouraged by the dedication of both governments to deliver mutual benefits for all their citizens through the establishment of a strategic partnership as a basis for intensified cooperation.”
Also, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the “historic” agreement reached between Tsipras and Zaev.
He said: “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.
“This will set Skopje on its path to NATO membership.”
He added the move will help to consolidate peace and stability across Western Balkans.–AA

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