Greece, Macedonia to sign deal ending yearslong name dispute


Greek objections delayed United Nations recognition of Macedonia until April 1993, and then only as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

The deal is set to be signed by the Greek and Macedonian foreign ministers on Sunday, but the ratification process will take several months and faces many hurdles in Macedonia.

They include the still uncertain ratification of the deal by both parliaments and an even riskier referendum on the deal in Macedonia, which will put Zaev's government to the test.

The foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia met on June 17 in the Greek village of Psarades to sign an agreement resolving the two countries' dispute over Macedonia's official name.

The ceremony ended with the symbolic gesture of Zaev by giving his necktie to Tsipras as a gift.

The two premiers, both in their forties, have bucked strong reactions at home to push ahead with the agreement.

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Greek riot police clash with protesters who seek to force their way into the parliament in Athens, Greece, on June 16, 2018.

"Greece has been in dispute with Macedonia since 1991 over the former Yugoslav republic's name, arguing it could imply territorial claims over the Greek province of Macedonia and an appropriation of ancient Greek culture and civilisation".

But earlier this week, Tsipras and his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev reached a deal to end the festering dispute.

Sunday's ceremony was held under draconian security measures as hardliners in both countries object to the deal because they regard it as a national sellout.

That attempt came a day after an MP from the far-right Golden Dawn party delivered a fierce rant urging the army to overthrow Tsipras. That would leave Tsipras dependent on the support of opposition parties.

- Macedonia will seek NATO and European Union membership under the name Republic of North Macedonia.

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Skopje hopes to secure a date to begin European Union accession talks at an EU summit in late June and an invitation to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in mid-July.

Greece's main opposition conservatives tabled a censure motion while Macedonia's pro-nationalist President Gjorge Ivanov has pledged to exercise a one-time veto to delay the deal. There is a Macedonian minority in northern Greece which is nearly totally assimilated after Greece gained the territory following the Second Balkan War, with the people there having no right to declare themselves as Macedonians by ethnicity or to speak the Macedonian language.

An elderly man in the audience nodded and smiled.

If Ivanov refuses to sign the deal, it will go on a second vote.

The deal will finally have to be ratified by the Greek parliament, a process which may also not be straightforward.

Its language would be Macedonian and its people known as Macedonians (citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia).

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