Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Athens, Skopje Reach Agreement on Constitutional Name of Macedonia


The Republic of Northern Macedonia is the new name of the former Yugoslav republic that PMs Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev have agreed on.

"We have a deal", Mr Tsipras said.
"I'm happy because we have a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side", Tsipras said in televised comments on June 12.

Because of the reference to the conqueror, "previous Greek governments have claimed that the Republic of Macedonia- tiny, impoverished, and with virtually no military might - also has territorial designs on its province", NPR adds.

The nationality of the country's citizens will be listed on official documents as "Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of Macedonia".

Greece had also blocked the country from negotiating with the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

"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", said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement.

European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officials, meanwhile, welcomed the announcement from Tsipras and Zaev, calling it a "historic" deal.

He added that Macedonia "cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilisation of Macedonia".

"I now call on both countries to finalise the agreement reached by the two leaders".

Both Albania and Macedonia hope to launch full membership negotiations with the European Union.


However, Mr Tsipras said, this will be contingent on Macedonia completing the constitutional changes.

"In other words, if the constitutional amendment is not successfully completed, then the invitation to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will be automatically rescinded and the accession talks with the European Union will not start", he said.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted his support for the agreement: "Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible".

Both governments have faced criticism ahead of the compromise and on Tuesday Macedonia's President Gjorge Ivanov signalled his concern.

This year there have been several protests against an agreement in Skopje, as well as in Athens and Greece's second city of Thessaloniki in the north.

Most opposition parties have criticised Tsipras's tactics, and even his coalition partner, the right-wing Independent Greeks, have said they will not back an accord that allows the continued use of "Macedonia".

In Skopje, meanwhile, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said earlier in the day that he remained opposed to writing the new name into the constitution, a move meant to show the change is permanent and binding for domestic and worldwide use.

Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati also congratulated "our neighbors & friends" for a "breakthrough agreement" that he said would lead the Balkans region to become part of the "Euro-Atlantic family".

But Greeks seem cool to any deal involving the continued use of the name "Macedonia" by their northern neighbour.

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