Greece and Macedonia reach deal in 27-year dispute over name

Greece, Macedonia 'Have A Deal' On Name Dispute

The Republic of Northern Macedonia is the new name of the former Yugoslav republic that PMs Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev have agreed on.

Greece's Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia's Zoran Zaev said the former Yugoslav republic's new name for both domestic and worldwide purposes would be Republic of Northern Macedonia.

The United Nations envoy who has tried to mediate the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia for almost as long as the dispute has existed is congratulating the countries' prime ministers for resolving their differences.

He reportedly proposed four options to settle the long-standing dispute, including Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Upper Macedonia, Republic of Vardar Macedonia and Republic of Macedonia.

Zaev said resolving the longstanding issue would open Macedonia's access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU. Athens say that name implies territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name.

"There is no way back", Mr Zaev told a news conference as he explained the decision. A meeting of the two soon may seal the deal, he said.

Following the latest round of discussions, Macedonia is now set to be known as the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

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

Matthew Nimetz said in a statement Tuesday he has "no doubt this agreement will lead to a period of enhanced relations between the two neighboring countries and especially between their people".

"We got a fair deal..."

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The name dispute has poisoned relations between the two countries since Macedonia's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and has prevented Macedonia from joining worldwide institutions such as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

Many Greeks felt their northern neighbour was trying to hijack Greece's ancient cultural heritage.

The "new" Slavic people calling themselves Macedonians did not help matters when they named the main airport in the capital, Skopje, after Ancient Greek hero Alexander the Great, as well as a key highway running from Skopje to the Greek border.

Mr Tsipras said the deal dictates "a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbours".

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.

However, Greece's leftist leader is still likely to win support from centre-left parties.

Athens and Skopje had been racing to agree the outline of a settlement before an European Union summit in late June, though any accord would need to clear a referendum in Macedonia and win approval from politicians in both countries.

Skopje hopes to secure a date to begin accession talks at an European Union summit in late June, and an invitation to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in mid-July. The new name will be used both domestically and internationally, with Macedonia making a relevant amendment to its Constitution, Zaev added.

The two prime ministers are expected to sign the agreement over the next weekend.

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