Friday, July 06, 2018

Macedonia ratifies name deal with Greece for 2nd time

The Macedonian parliament ratified for the second time an agreement signed with Greece to change the former's name after its president temporarily blocked the deal last week.

Sixty-nine out of 120 lawmakers voted in favor of the agreement.

Macedonia’s president announced last week that he would not sign a landmark deal with Greece to change his country’s name after the Macedonian parliament ratified an agreement on June 20.

Speaking in parliament in Skopje, Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov on Thursday said: "The agreement does not harm Macedonia's identity and language, but rather strengthens it as never before."

"According to the law, after this vote President Gjorge Ivanov is obliged to sign the agreement. The statement Ivanov made on the agreement is not true," Dimitrow said.

On June 17, Greece and its northern neighbor signed a historic accord on renaming Macedonia, ending a long-standing dispute between the two countries.

The deal proposes changing Macedonia's name to the Republic of North Macedonia and will enable Greece to lift its veto on Macedonia's EU and NATO accession.

Greece, both a NATO and EU member, has long opposed Macedonia’s official name, as it has a region by the same name in the north of its country.

Due to Athens’ veto, the dispute has been one of the main obstacles to Macedonia’s ambitions to join NATO and the EU.

Negotiations between Macedonia and Greece had recently stepped up, as the new government in Skopje sought progress in its bid to join NATO and the EU.

Despite the dispute between Athens and Skopje, many countries, including Turkey, recognize the country as Macedonia. 

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