Macedonia makes name change deal with Greece

Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Zoran Zaev hailed a "historic solution" on Tuesday after Skopje and Athens resolved a longstanding row by agreeing to rename his country the Republic of North Macedonia.

Skopje also needs to revise its constitution, Tsipras said, before Greece ratifies the deal. Tsipras said that Athens got "a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side" as he briefed Greek President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, on the results of negotiations.

"Our bid in the compromise is a defined and precise name, the name that is honourable and geographically precise - Republic of Northern Macedonia".

The nationality of the country's citizens will be listed on official documents as "Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of Macedonia".

Mr Tsipras said the deal dictates "a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbours". The dispute has kept Macedonia - whose United Nations -recognized name is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - from joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union, organizations where Greece has veto power over admissions, like all members.

Greece had long demanded that Macedonia change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of Greece's northern region of Macedonia - birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.

European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officials, meanwhile, welcomed the announcement from Tsipras and Zaev, calling it a "historic" deal.

Ancient Macedonia was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a point of pride to Greeks today.

And main opposition parties in both countries rejected the agreement. Macedonia will also have to change its constitution, according to Zaev.

Significantly, they agreed that the new name would be used both internationally and bilaterally, so that even the 140 or more countries that recognize the name Macedonia will also have to adopt North Macedonia. Tusk said: "Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible", he said. By adopting the same identity in 1991, the new nation comprised by a Slavic population who have no historical or cultural connection to the Ancient Macedonians from whom the name derives infuriated many Greeks, who suspected their northern neighbor of territorial ambitions and cultural appropriation.

"I am keeping my fingers crossed", he said.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias had prepared a 20-page draft agreement after repeated talks with his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Dimitrov.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, whose right-wing Independent Greeks party is Tsipras' government partner, said Tuesday he would oppose an agreement in a parliamentary vote.

"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.

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