Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute

Greece, Macedonia 'Have A Deal' On Name Dispute

Greece, Macedonia 'Have A Deal' On Name Dispute

"Maybe what has the most historic gravity and value for Greece (is that) according to this accord. our northern neighbors don't have, and can not assert, any link to the ancient Greek culture of Macedonia", Tsipras said in a televised address on Tuesday evening.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on May 19 that the name of the "Republic of Ilinden Macedonia" could be a possible compromise to be reached between Skopje and Athens in a dispute over the name of the country.

There was no immediate comment from Macedonian officials.

Greece has been insisting that use of the name "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim to Greece's own northern province of Macedonia, and a claim to Greece's ancient heritage.

The Greek prime minister will now inform the country's president and will later give a televised statement.

Zaev said the deal would be signed this weekend, and a voter referendum would be held in the fall.

"The chance is here and it must be seized, bravely, as this is the only patriotic way", Macedonian Prime Minisrter Zoran Zaev told a press conference in Skopje. He added that Macedonia "cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia".


Skopje and Athens announced they can resolve their long and bitter dispute by agreeing on the composite name "Republic of North Macedonia" for Macedonia - a deal expected to unlock Skopje's European Union and NATO bids. The name issue has been blocking Skopje's aspirations to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union for years. "Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible", he said.

The EU's enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn and foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini responded with an enthusiastic welcome for the agreement.

The name dispute between Athens and Skopje dates back to 1991, when Macedonia peacefully broke away from Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.

However, both prime ministers faced dissent at home.

But Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, whose right-wing Independent Greeks party is Tsipras' junior coalition partner, said he would reject the name agreement in a parliamentary vote.

In Skopje, meanwhile, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said earlier in the day that he remained opposed to a constitutional change that would likely be included in the draft deal, to provide an assurance that the name change was permanent and binding for domestic and global use. Nicholas Paphitis and Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Greece contributed.

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