Greece and Macedonia Strike Deal on Name Dispute
Albanian Daily News
Published June 13, 2018
Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FRYOM) on Tuesday announced an historic agreement to resolve a decades-long name dispute that has hampered relations between the two countries and left Macedonia with its rather unwieldy formal name.
Ministers from the both countries agreed on "Republic of Northern Macedonia" as the Balkan country's new official name.
Greece's Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia's Zoran Zaev announced the agreement shortly after speaking by phone.
Tsipras went on to tell Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during a televised meeting: "I'm happy because we have a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side."
"This achieves a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbors and puts an end to the irredentism which their current constitutional name implies," he added.
Zaev described the agreement with Greece as a "historic agreement of the century."
"We have been solving a two-and-a-half decade dispute ... that has been drowning the country," he said, going on to insist that the deal "will strengthen the Macedonian identity."
The deal states that Macedonia will amend its constitution to reflect its new name. Meanwhile, Greece has reportedly agreed to stop blocking Macedonian requests to join the European Union and NATO military alliance.
What's in a name?
The dispute over Macedonia's name has been an issue ever since the country broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. It declared its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.
However, Greece, whose northern region is also called Macedonia and borders the Balkan country, objected to the name and demanded it be changed.
Both sides have laid claim to the name. Ancient Macedonia was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire -- he was known in his time as Alexander III of Macedon. Under the Romans, however, the province of Macedonia was expanded to include territory in modern-day Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania.
The longstanding row has hindered Macedonian hopes of joining the EU or NATO.