Macedonian parliament agrees to change country's name to Republic of North Macedonia

Evarado Alatorre
Enero 12, 2019

The countries struck the deal on the new name in June, but Macedonia will start using it only after lawmakers in Greece also ratify the agreement.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told lawmakers Friday that the deal with neighboring Greece, which insisted on the name change to lift its objections to Macedonia joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union, was the best he could secure.

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

The party's leader Hristjan Mickoski accused the government of securing parliamentary approval by "blackmailing" lawmakers and urged Zaev to call an early election this spring. "The vote on constitutional amendments that changed the name, identity, history and culture was done against the constitution".

Mickoski told reporters the move Friday to change the country's name to North Macedonia to appease neighboring Greece was made against the desires of the Macedonian people "and is an act of treason".

The vote in Athens threatens to destabilise Tsipras' ruling coalition, as the junior party in government, the nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, strongly opposes the Prespes agreement.

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Under the agreement, after Skopje cements the name change with constitutional amendments, Tsipras is to push the ratification of the agreement through the Greek parliament.

Several hundred people have been protesting outside FYR Macedonia's parliament in recent days.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' office said he spoke to Zaev after Friday's vote. The so-called Prespa agreement seeks to end a 27-year-long dispute between Athens and Skopje over the name Macedonia.

Greece is bound by terms of the deal to stop blocking Macedonia from NATOand other global groups and to allow it to start European Union accession talks as part of the deal.

FYR Macedonia is controversial for Greeks because it uses the same name as a neighbouring region in northern Greece.

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