Greece, Macedonia Sign Pact to Change Ex-Yugoslav Republic's Name
Greece, Macedonia Sign Pact to Change Ex-Yugoslav Republic's Name
19 June, 2018, 13:18
The accord, signed on Lake Prespa in northern Greece bordering Macedonia and Albania, hopes to settle almost three decades of talks between the two over the name.
In the Macedonian capital Skopje, hundreds of nationalists hit the streets to protest the decision, with police firing stun grenades and tear gas into the crowd.
"We have a historic responsibility to ensure this agreement is not left up in the air", Tsipras said. Greek police said 12 people were injured, including six police officers.
The naming row between the two countries began 27 years ago when FYROM declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but has roots going back to antiquity.
"This is a fearless, historic and necessary step for our peoples", said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, when signing the accord in the lakeside fishing village of Psarades on the border between the nations.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the agreement would heal wounds between the two countries. I guess it's fair to call it a philotimo subscription... because you don't have to do it but it's really the right thing to do if you love the site and the content we publish.
Zaev crossed the lake on a motor boat to arrive at the ceremony, where he was welcomed by Tsipras.
Greek objections delayed United Nations recognition of Macedonia until April 1993 and then only as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Talks with Greece resumed after Zaev took office in the Balkan state of 2 million a year ago and made solving the quarrel a priority.
The three-day parliamentary debate has been acrimonious at times, with Friday's session disrupted by an extreme right-wing lawmaker calling on the country's military to arrest top officials for backing the deal.
Greece argued that the name "Macedonia" implied territorial claims on its province of the same name, which is the birthplace of the ancient warrior king Alexander the Great, and usurped its ancient Greek heritage and history.
The two premiers, born just months apart in 1974, have bucked strong hostile reactions at home to push ahead with the agreement.
Under the terms of the accord, the country will be known as "Republic of North Macedonia", and Greece will lift its objections to the country joining the European Union and the NATO military alliance.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Dimitrov signed the deal with Tsipras and Zaev present in Psarades, a small fishing village in Greece, just a day after the Greek prime minister survived a no-confidence vote over his handling of the longstanding disagreement.
- Both countries confirm their common existing frontier as their "enduring and inviolable worldwide border".
Both countries' parliaments must ratify the agreement and Zaev said he will also put it to a referendum.
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