Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Skopje notifies United Nations of name change

Skopje notifies United Nations of name change

The move was the first step in the formal change of the country's name a day earlier, in line with an agreement with Greece which ends a almost three decades-long dispute.

Macedonia enters the alliance under a new name, Republic of North Macedonia, which was agreed in the historic "name" deal signed last summer with Greece.

North Macedonia's defense minister, Radmila Sekerinska, says she's filled with pride as her country takes a seat at NATO's table for the first time.

In his marking of the historic day, North Macedonia's foreign minister, Nikola Dimitrov, took the time to reflect on what the changes meant for the country's future diplomatic relationships, particularly with neighbouring Greece.

"May today be the beginning of a long friendship between Greece and North Macedonia", he said in a tweet.

As part of the agreement, North Macedonia's customs office must put the new name on road signs at all border crossings within three days.

Greece found the use of the country's former name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, controversial due to it being a similar name for a region in Greece's north.

Greece only allowed Skopje to join the United Nations in 1995 as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", a reference to the country's former membership of Yugoslavia.

FILE - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev gesture before the signing of an accord to settle a long dispute over the former Yugoslav republic's name in the village of Psarades, in Prespes, Greece, June 17, 2018.

The small Balkans country changed its name from Macedonia on Tuesday.

A breakthrough in their name dispute came last summer when Zaev and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to a compromise under which Greece also lifted its objections to Macedonia joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

The Interior Ministry is to begin issuing new passports by the end of 2019, while the central bank is scheduled to start issuing new banknotes by the beginning of 2020.

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