Macedonia parliament agrees to change country's name | 2019-01-12 |

Macedonia parliament agrees to change country's name


12th January, 2019 02:30:15 printer

Macedonia parliament agrees to change country's name


Macedonia's parliament has approved a constitutional amendment to change the country's name to the Republic of North Macedonia.


Prime Minister Zoran Zaev narrowly secured the two-thirds majority needed in the historic vote amid a boycott by opposition nationalists.


Protesters outside parliament denounced what they called an act of treason.


The name change is aimed at ending a 27-year dispute with Greece, which has its own region called Macedonia.


The Greek parliament must now give its approval under a deal signed by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Mr Zaev in June.


That will lift Athens' veto on Macedonia's bids to join Nato and the European Union.


What's the source of the dispute?


When Macedonia declared independence during the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece objected to its new neighbour's name.


Present-day Macedonia and northern Greece were part of a Roman province called Macedonia. And both claim the heritage of Alexander the Great two millennia earlier.


Greece's objections forced the UN to refer to the new country as "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".


Athens also vetoed Macedonia's attempt to join Nato in 2008 - and blocked its EU membership ambitions.


Since 1991, many suggestions have been proposed, then rejected.


But a change of government in Macedonia in 2017 finally brought the start of serious negotiations, which led to the deal reached last year.


What happens next?


Under the agreement, the country's language will be called Macedonian and its people known as Macedonians (citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia).


The new name will be used both internationally and bilaterally, so that even the 140 or more countries that recognise the name Macedonia will also have to adopt North Macedonia. In Macedonian, the name is Severna Makedonija.