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Macedonia and Greece have signed an agreement settling a 27-year-long dispute over Macedonia’s name.

Under the agreement, the country known at the UN as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will become North Macedonia.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said it was “a brave, historic and necessary step for our peoples”.

Heated rows over Macedonia’s name have been going on since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, of which it was a part, and have held up Macedonia’s entry to NATO and the EU.


Greece has long argued that by using the name Macedonia, its neighbor was implying it had a claim on the northern Greek province also called Macedonia.

The deal has been announced on June 12 and has pressed ahead despite protests.

Image source Wikimedia

Macedonia to Become Republic of North Macedonia after Reaching Name Deal with Greece

Greece: Huge Athens Rally over Macedonia Name Dispute

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev watched as their foreign ministers signed the deal on Lake Prespa on Greece’s northern border on June 17.

The agreement still needs to be approved by both parliaments and by a referendum in Macedonia.

Nationalists on both sides say it erodes their identity.

On June 16, PM Tsipras survived a no-confidence vote over the deal amid accusations he made too many concessions.

Under the deal, Macedonia would be named Severna Makedonija, or Republic of North Macedonia.

Its language would be Macedonian and its people known as Macedonians (citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia).

As part of the agreement, Greece would lift its objections to the renamed nation joining the EU and NATO.

There is still some way to go before the name change becomes official.

The Macedonian parliament first needs to back the deal. That would be followed by a referendum in September or October.

If Macedonian voters support it, the government would have to change the constitution, which is a key Greek demand.

Things have been complicated further as Macedonia’s President Gjorge Ivanov is refusing to sign the agreement.

President Ivanov has the power to veto the deal – but not indefinitely.

If the president refuses to sign the agreement, it will be sent back to parliament for a second vote. If it passes again, the president would then be obliged to approve the legislation.

The agreement will finally have to be ratified by the Greek parliament, a process which may also not be straightforward.

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Greece and Macedonia have reached a deal regarding the latter’s name, which called itself Macedonia at the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

After 27 years of talks – and many protests, Greece and its northern neighbor have settled on the name Republic of North Macedonia, or Severna Makedonija in Macedonian.

Greece had objected to the name Macedonia, fearing territorial claims on its eponymous northern region.

It had vetoed Macedonia’s bid to join NATO and the European Union.

The name Republic of North Macedonia will now need to be approved by the Macedonian people and Greek parliament.

Under the deal, the country known at the UN as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will be named Severna Makedonija, or Republic of North Macedonia.

Its language will be Macedonian and its people known as Macedonians (citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia).

Image source Wikimedia

Greece: Huge Athens Rally over Macedonia Name Dispute

The two countries agreed that the new name would be used both internationally and bilaterally, so that even the 140 or more countries that recognize the name Macedonia will also have to adopt North Macedonia.

They also agreed that the English name could be used as well as the Slavic term.

The two sides had earlier dropped a number of alternatives, including Gorna Makedonija (Upper Macedonia), Nova Makedonija (New Macedonia) and Ilinden Macedonia.

The name Macedonia already belongs to a northern region of Greece that includes the country’s second city Thessaloniki. By adopting the same identity in 1991, the new Slavic nation infuriated many Greeks, who suspected their northern neighbor of territorial ambitions.

The new Macedonians did not help matters when they named the main airport in the capital, Skopje, after Ancient Greek hero Alexander the Great, as well as a key motorway running from the Serbian to the Greek border.

During the 4th Century BC, the Macedonia of Alexander and his father Philip II before him ruled all of Greece and much beyond it.

When the Ottomans were driven out of the broad region known as Macedonia during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, it was split up, mainly between Greece and Serbia, but a small part went to Bulgaria.

In World War Two, Greek and Yugoslav Macedonia were occupied by Bulgaria, an ally of Nazi Germany and Italy. Communists from both Yugoslavia and Bulgaria played a part in the Greek civil war that followed, so memories are still raw.

When Yugoslavia broke up, Greece would only accept the new country as “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)” at the UN, even though much of the world came to recognize it as Macedonia.