Greece and Macedonia sign agreement on name change

Greece and Macedonia sign agreement on name change

Athens has long objected to its northern neighbour's use of the name "Macedonia", saying it implies territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name and amounts to the appropriation of Greece's ancient cultural heritage.

Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 under the provisional name of the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", but more than 120 countries including Russian Federation and the United States have recognized the Balkan country under the name of "Republic of Macedonia".

The UN "name" mediator, Matthew Nimetz, as well as other ministers from both countries attended the ceremony, as did the European Union enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, the European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, as well as the UN's Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo.

Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, who heads the junior coalition partner, the Independent Greeks party, stressed that Saturday's vote was not on the Macedonia name deal itself, which his party opposes.

In FYROM, the agreement must clear the hurdles of parliamentary ratification, a referendum in September and a constitutional amendment.

Macedonia's main opposition party organized protests against the deal, and they are supported by the country's president, who can veto it.

Greece's left-led coalition government survived a no-confidence vote in parliament Saturday brought over a deal to end a decades-old dispute with neighboring Macedonia concerning the latter's name.

That attempt came a day after an MP from the far-right Golden Dawn party delivered a fierce rant urging the army to overthrow Tsipras.

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

- Both countries confirm their common existing frontier as their "enduring and inviolable global border".

The parliament voted 153-127 against the motion. "Macedonia and Alexander the Great is Greek history and culture, and they are just giving it away to Skopje".

"This government should go before it does more damage, this time national damage", he said.

The agreement aimed to end a bitter dispute that has roiled the two countries' relations since shortly after the small country declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. (You'll see the acronym FYROM on Google Maps.) In addition to causing confusion, the similar names have been a stumbling block for the nation of Macedonia to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation because of Greece's objections. May also revise school textbooks. There is a Macedonian minority in northern Greece which is nearly totally assimilated after Greece gained the territory following the Second Balkan War, with the people there having no right to declare themselves as Macedonians by ethnicity or to speak the Macedonian language.

"You are legalizing (Macedonian) irredentism", he said.

The implementation of the agreement will be conducted gradually in line with the opening of Macedonia's EU's negotiation chapters.

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