Goodbye FYR, hello North! Macedonia and Greece resolve name dispute

Lester Mason
June 13, 2018

Macedonia will be named the Republic of North Macedonia, or Severna Makedonija in Macedonian, after reaching a deal with Greece on the decades-long name issue, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said.

"We wholeheartedly congratulate Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev for their determination and leadership in reaching this historic agreement between their countries, which contributes to the transformation of the entire region of South-East Europe", Hahn and Mogherini said in a joint statement.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said the deal would pave the way for the nation's eventual membership of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The name would be the Republic of North Macedonia, subject to approval.

Bulgaria, which also shares a border with Greece and Macedonia, said the new name should not be used for territorial or claims concerning language, culture, history or identity.

The Greek government has spent 27 years fighting with Macedonia over the use of the name, which references ancient Macedonia and by association its famous leader, Alexander the Great.

While the debate over the name might seem trivial, Greece has gone as far as to block Macedonia from joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or the European Union because of its name.

"By solving the name question, we are becoming a member of NATO", Zaev added.

"There is no way back", Zaev said in a news conference.

"A short while ago we reached an agreement with the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the disagreement our two countries have" over the name issue, Tsipras told President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.


The name dispute has soured relations between the two neighbours at least since 1991, when Macedonia broke away from former Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.

But Macedonia clearly liked the name, too, meaning that there's been a massive stand-off for nearly 30 years, which has seen many protests and conflict.

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

In 1992 more than a million Greeks joined a rally in the northern city of Thessaloniki, once the most important city in ancient Macedonia, to proclaim "Macedonia is Greek".

Macedonia became a candidate for membership of the European Union in 2005 but Greece blocked the start of negotiations.

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

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted his "sincere congratulations" to Tsipras and Zaev.

The new name will need to be approved by the Macedonian people and the Greek parliament, but by the sounds of things it's a goer.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also declared a deal had been struck.

"In essence, the (deal) is acceptance of all Greek positions", VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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