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Athens, Skopje Reach Agreement on Constitutional Name of Macedonia

Athens, Skopje Reach Agreement on Constitutional Name of Macedonia

Greece and Macedonia reached a historic agreement Tuesday to end a bitter 27-year name dispute that had kept the smaller and younger country out of worldwide institutions such as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the two countries' prime ministers announced.

Skopje also needs to revise its constitution, Tsipras said, before Greece ratifies the deal.

We have a good agreement that covers all of the conditions put forth by the Greek side.

Macedonia has just changed its name. and to be honest, we're all a little confused.

The nationality of the country's citizens will be listed on official documents as "Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of Macedonia".

The dispute over the "Macedonia" name had been a thorn in relations of the two countries at least since 1991, when Macedonia broke away from former Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.

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Greece had long demanded that Macedonia change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of Greece's northern region of Macedonia - birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great. The country was also accepted to the United Nations in 1993 as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

"This historic agreement is testament to many years of patient diplomacy, and to the willingness of these two leaders to solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long", said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement.

On June 6, thousands of people protested in major cities across Greece against the compromise, while, four days earlier, like numbers of supporters of Macedonia's right-wing opposition VMRO-DPMNE party took to the streets of the capital, Skopje, to protest against a deal.

Ancient Macedonia was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a point of pride to Greeks today.

The accord still requires ratification by the two national parliaments and a referendum in Macedonia, a tough test for the leaders in both countries.

Both Albania and Macedonia hope to launch full membership negotiations with the European Union.

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Significantly, they agreed that the new name would be used both internationally and bilaterally, so that even the 140 or more countries that recognize the name Macedonia will also have to adopt North Macedonia.

The new name will need to be approved by the Macedonian people and the Greek parliament, but by the sounds of things it's a goer. I believe in the democracy of the internet and want to keep this site and its enriching content free for everyone.

Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati also congratulated "our neighbors & friends" for a "breakthrough agreement" that he said would lead the Balkans region to become part of the "Euro-Atlantic family".

The two prime ministers are expected to sign the agreement over the next weekend. "Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible", he said.

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn, commissioner for European Union enlargement, said they looked forward to accession negotiations beginning with Skopje in June.

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