Greece, Macedonia ink deal to end name row

Greece, Macedonia ink deal to end name row

The United Nations has been calling it the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Against the scenic backdrop of the Prespes Lake district in northern Greece, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Dimitrov, on Sunday signed a landmark agreement to change the Balkan country's name in the presence of their prime ministers and foreign officials. He added that it was a "mutually-beneficial agreement" for both sides.

"Skopje and Athens, after 25 years of negotiations, succeeded in reaching a historical agreement. although there are big challenges on the way to its implementation considering the resistance in both states towards this agreement", reports euronews' Borjan Jovanovski.

Police fired teargas on hundreds of people who gathered in front of the Greek parliament on Saturday to protest against the agreement.

The name dispute dated back to 1991 when the FYROM declared independence from Yugoslavia and chose the name Macedonia, which is also the name of a northern Greek province. However, top European Union top officials have said that the signing of the deal by the president would not be crucial for Macedonia to obtain a date to start European Union talks once it is ratified in the parliament.

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Greece and Macedonia on Sunday signed a deal to resolve a decades-old dispute concerning Macedonia's name.

Zaev, elected last year, has made rapprochement with Greece a priority to secure his country's membership of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, blocked by Athens for years.

However, the right-wing Independent Greeks party opposes the deal and has said it will not support the agreement when it comes up for ratification in parliament. If Ivanov refuses to sign the deal, it will go on a second vote.

The Greek government won't have to get get parliamentary approval for the deal until there's a constitutional revision in Macedonia. "Macedonia and Alexander the Great is Greek history and culture, and they are just giving it away to Skopje".

They also note that Greece had already been criticized by the International Court of Justice for blocking Macedonia's membership of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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The subject is a deeply emotional one for many Greeks.

The new name, which in Macedonian language is Severna Makedonija, will be translated and will be incorporated into the Constitution.

The crowd was a far cry from the more than 100,000 people who turned out in the capital months ago to protest any compromises over FYROM's new name.

However, the deal still has to be approved also by citizens in a "yes" or "no" referendum that will be called in autumn. That is expected to occur by the end of the year.

The Macedonian parliament is scheduled to start debating the agreement next week.

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