Greece to expel two Russian diplomats, ban two others - newspaper

After Greece said it would kick out two Russian diplomats Russia promised to expel Greeks from the embassy in Moscow

"Detailed accession talks will now begin to help your country make its final preparation for its full membership", Stoltenberg told Zaev on the sidelines of the Western alliance's summit in Brussels on July 12. "They can not get both", NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference after the decision.

The deal to end the name dispute foresees Macedonia renamed as North Macedonia in exchange for Greece dropping objections to its northern neighbor joining NATO and the European Union.

Greece and Macedonia agreed last month that the former Yugoslav republic should be renamed North Macedonia.

Thousands of Macedonians take part in a protest over a compromise solution in Macedonia's dispute with Greece over the country's name in Skopje, Macedonia, June 2, 2018.

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The expulsion of the diplomats, revealed in the Greek media on Wednesday but relayed by the Greek government to Russian Federation on July 6, follows evidence they were encouraging rallies to oppose the Macedonian name deal, including offering bribes to opponents of the deal. Greece had claimed the title Macedonia implied a territorial claim on the Greek province of the same name.

Additionally on Wednesday, Greece said it would expel two Russian diplomats suspected of involvement in rallies in the country against the Macedonian name agreement.

As reported by PressTV, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that the door of NATO is open and will always remain open for Macedonia. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has staked his political future on the deal, threatening to resign if people vote against it.

While the accession process is relatively long, Stoltenberg seemed to suggest that Macedonia will become a member soon after finalizing the deal with Greece.

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Another Balkan country has felt similar pressures both from Russian Federation and its allies on account of its pro-NATO commitments.

According to high-level Greek diplomatic sources, Athens is calling for the immediate expulsion of two personnel, including the Russian Embassy official Victor Yakovlev, and the expulsion of two more.

Leaders recognised the significant progress on reforms which Georgia has made and must continue, which are helping Georgia, an aspirant country, progress in its preparations towards membership, and which strengthen Georgia's defence and interoperability capabilities with the alliance.

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