Macedonia Votes In Favour Of Name Change, Settling Decades-Old Greece Row

Lester Mason
January 12, 2019

While some of the VMRO-DPMNE members supported the renaming, others boycotted the vote, leaving Mickoski with 39 mandates in the 120-strong parliament.

Demonstrators wave flags in front of the parliament building in Skopje on 23 June 2018 during a protest against the new name of the country, the Republic of North Macedonia.

The disagreement has sparked protests on both sides of the territorial boundary and produced real consequences: Greece has blocked Macedonia's entry into both North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev secured the required majority in parliament on Friday that was needed to rename the country in line with a landmark agreement with Greece to end a decades-long dispute.

"Within ten days, in any case as soon as the (Macedonia parliamentary vote) result is notified to us and if we see that everything is in order, we will vote (to approve) the Prespes Agreement", he told Open TV.

Greece has blocked that path since Macedonia broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 because, it says, the name Macedonia should apply exclusively to its own northern province.

Eighty-one deputies in the 120-seat parliament voted in favor.

Greece already contained a region called Macedonia, which incorporates most of the territories of the eponymous ancient kingdom that was led centuries ago by Alexander the Great.

Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of Macedonia's largest opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, called for the dissolution of the parliament and holding snap elections after the legislature approved constitutional amendments necessary for renaming the country under a deal with Greece.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' office said he spoke to Zaev after Friday's vote.

Delays had marked the October vote that launched the procedure to change the constitution, also with a two-thirds majority.

The Friday vote brought an end to months of political bickering in Macedonia that included a controversial consultative referendum in September and a long parliamentary battle.

ANEL leader Panos Kammenos, who is Tsipras' defence minister, has threatened to pull out of the government when the deal comes to a vote in Athens.

However several opposition MPs broke ranks and voted for the change, alongside the ruling Social Democratic party and their junior coalition partners from the ethnic Albanian minority.

Previous Greek governments have also claimed that the tiny Republic of Macedonia might use the name to make territorial claims on its province.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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