Macedonia parliament agrees to change country's name




  • In World
  • 2019-01-11 19:49:15Z
  • By By Kole Casule

By Kole Casule

SKOPJE (Reuters) - Macedonia's parliament passed an amendment to the constitution on Friday to rename the country Republic of North Macedonia, in line with an agreement with Greece to put an end to a 27-year-old dispute.

The countries struck the deal on the new name in June, but Macedonia will start using it only after the parliament in Athens also ratifies the agreement.

Eighty-one deputies in the 120-seat parliament voted in favor. Representatives of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, who opposed the agreement with Greece, boycotted the vote.

"A new historical chapter in our statehood has been written this evening," the Macedonian government said in a statement.

"It makes absolutely plausible two of our biggest state interests - membership in NATO and EU," it said.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras called his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev to congratulate him, his office said in a written statement.

Greece blocked its neighbor's aspirations to EU and NATO membership over the use of 'Macedonia', which it said implied territorial claims to a Greek province of the same name.

The implementation of the agreement, named after the bordering town of Prespa where it was signed, is intended to end the dispute.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and EU commissioner in charge of enlargement Johannes Hahn hailed the vote.

"NATO strongly supports the full implementation of the agreement, which is an important contribution to a stable and prosperous region," Stoltenberg wrote on his twitter account.

"My sincerest congratulations to political actors and citizens of the hopefully soon to be North Macedonia on Parliament's vote on the constitutional changes," Hahn tweeted.

"(I) hope that this historic decision creates a positive dynamic for reconciliation in the whole Western Balkan region," Hahn said.

Several hundred people have protested against the deal in front of parliament over the past three days. Macedonian opposition parties and nationalists say changing the name of the country and national symbols is too high price to pay for NATO accession.

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

"The vote on constitutional amendments that changed the name, identity, history and culture was done against the constitution. It was illegal, violent and done in a criminal way," Hristijan Mickoski told journalists after the vote.

(Reporting by Kole Casule; Additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas in Athens and Robin Emmot in Brussels; writing by Ivana Sekularac; editing by John Stonestreet)

COMMENTS

More Related News

NATO to endorse measures against Russia over missile treaty
NATO to endorse measures against Russia over missile treaty
  • US
  • 2019-06-25 13:28:35Z

NATO defense ministers are set to endorse a list of measures that could be used against Russia should it refuse to comply with a major Cold War-era missile treaty, the military alliance's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said Tuesday. In February, the United States began the 6-month process of withdrawing from the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty agreed with the then Soviet Union, blaming Russia for refusing to comply with the pact. The INF treaty will end unless Russia changes its mind by August 2, and NATO ministers are weighing what steps to take in response.

Countdown to NATO space strategy
Countdown to NATO space strategy

NATO will launch its first strategy for space this week as the alliance heads beyond the skies to defend against the likes of China and Russia. The aim is for NATO to make space a full operational domain -- alongside land, sea, air and cyber -- perhaps as early as the alliance summit in London in December, diplomats say. "Space is part of our daily lives, and while it can be used for peaceful purposes, it can also be used for aggression," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

Iran in focus as new Pentagon chief heads to NATO
Iran in focus as new Pentagon chief heads to NATO
  • US
  • 2019-06-25 04:22:26Z

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper will be ready to update European allies on tensions with Iran as he heads to NATO headquarters this week during his inaugural trip as Pentagon chief, a senior U.S. official said. Esper, whose first full day in the Pentagon was on Monday, led the Army until the surprise resignation of Patrick Shanahan as acting defense secretary last week. Esper is now the third person in six months to work at the defense secretary's desk.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.