Macedonian parliament agrees to change country's name, paving way to European Union membership

12 Janvier, 2019, 00:57 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • A supporter of the movement boycotting the deal to change the country's name protests in Skopje

The Macedonian parliament has amended the constitution to rename the country as the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

Macedonian deputies voted Friday to change the country's name to "the Republic of North Macedonia", settling a decades-long row with Greece and paving the way to NATO and European Union membership.

A spokesperson for the governing Social Democrats said the ethnic Albanian lawmakers also agreed to back the deal.

The opposition VMRO-DPMNE party has asked for an early election.

Macedonia's prime minister says his country's approval of constitutional changes to rename itself North Macedonia is a tough but necessary decision.

Mickoski told reporters the move to appease Greece was made against the desires of the Macedonian people "and is an act of treason". Representatives of the opposition conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, who said the agreement concedes too much to Greece, boycotted the vote.

Several hundred people have protested against the deal in front of the parliament building in Skopje over the past three days.

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

However, the ball is now in Athens' court as the name change will be effective only once it is cleared by the Greek parliament.

For the Greeks, Macedonia is the name of a history-rich northern province that was the cradle of Alexander the Great's ancient empire.

Greece has previously blocked its neighbour's accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union ever since Macedonia broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

The Greek government is struggling to hold up its end of the bargain, and is struggling to secure the political support required to ratify the agreement reached last June.

Although his junior coalition partner opposes the deal, Tsipras has voiced confidence he will be able to secure ratification with the backing of opposition lawmakers.

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