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Macedonia name-change opponents rally forces in 2 countries

Macedonia name-change opponents rally forces in 2 countries

To Greece, Macedonia, historically and culturally, has nothing to do with any other country, including the republic to its immediate north.

The leaders of Greece and the Republic of Macedonia agreed, at least in principle, to end a dispute that has divided the Balkan neighbors for more than seven decades.

In Greece, the deal only faces ratification in parliament once Macedonia has performed all of its part of the process.

"Such a harmful agreement, which is unique in the history of mankind, is shameful and unacceptable for me", Mr Ivanov said in a televised speech.

В Македонии начался бунт против нового названия страны
Protest in Skopje against name deal; president won't sign it - English - on

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his counterpart in Macedonia/FYROM Zoran Zaev have agreed that the new hybrid name of "North Macedonia" will be used for both domestic and global purposes.

Athens has long objected to its northern neighbour's use of the name "Macedonia", saying it implies territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name and amounts to the appropriation of Greece's ancient cultural heritage.

He said the deal gave Greece too many concessions and would violate the Macedonian constitution.

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, whose right-wing Independent Greeks party is the coalition partner in Tsipras' government, said he would oppose an agreement in a parliamentary vote.

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This would leave the left-wing prime minister dependent on support from political opponents to ratify the deal in parliament. After the demise of Macedonia's bid for NATO membership in 2008, the government of then-prime minister Nikola Gruevski - leader of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) - started to capitalise on the resulting sense of isolation.

He also ruled out a Greek referendum on the name-change.

After the announcement was made on Wednesday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that Austria, which takes over the EU presidency next month, thought Macedonia had a chance of joining the European Union.

The head of the Greek opposition party New democracy Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Thursday that initiates the vote of no confidence in the government because of the agreement on the renaming of Macedonia.

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At a protest in Skopje on June 2, people waved Macedonian flags, and the occasional Russian one - indicating their opposition not only to the name change, but also the closer allegiance to the west that is likely to follow.

The nationality of the country's citizens will be listed on official documents in English as "Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia", Greek officials said. Opponents in Macedonia disagreed with any modification to their country's name, seeing it as a threat to their national identity. However, Tsipras said, this will be contingent on Macedonia completing the constitutional changes.

"We don't need to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or the European Union, this is not in our tradition".

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