Greece approves Macedonia name change, ending 28-year row

Chico HarlanJanuary 25 at 9:35 AMVERONA, Italy — One of Europe’s most enduring political disputes came to a formal end Friday, with Greece’s parliament approving an agreement that allows Macedonia to change its name and eventually join NATO and the European Union.The deal, approved in a 153-146 vote, was the final step in a precarious seven-month process that has included street protests, nationalist opposition, alleged Russian attempts at interference, and testy paths to ratification in both countries.Widely supported by the United States and European Union leaders, the agreement calls for Macedonia to change its name to North Macedonia, while Greece, in exchange, drops long-held opposition that has prevented its neighbor from integrating more formally with Europe.U.S. officials have said the deal has the chance to transform and stabilize the Balkans, a region that lags economically behind the rest of Europe and one where Russia battles with the West for influence. But polls indicate that nearly seven in 10 Greeks oppose the accord, and many accuse Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of pulling his party away from its populist roots while ramming through a deal that has won him acclaim from abroad.The dispute over Macedonia’s name has burned for nearly three decades, since the country was formed in the rubble of Yugoslavia’s collapse. The name issue may seem obscure, but it had become a proxy for a wider debate over national identity in a region with a proud and deep history that dates back to Alexander the Great.The outcome Friday was cheered by pro-Europeans as a rare victory for a continent dealing with the spread of nationalism and the chaos of Britain’s pending departure from the bloc. The vote was also a blow to Russia, which had allegedly tried to tried to stoke opposition to the name deal with a disinformation campaign and by offering money and bribes.The agreement was orchestrated by a pair of left-leaning leaders, Tsipras and Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev, who faced fierce political fights in recent months and who were accused of betraying their countries’ interests. On the way to finalizing the deal, Tsipras’s ruling coalition broke apart, and he only narrowly survived a no-confidence vote.“They had imagination, they took the risk, they were ready to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good,” European Council president Donald Tusk wrote on Twitter. “Zoran, Alexis – well done! Mission impossible accomplished.”Ancient Macedonia encompassed a broad area and today an area of northern Greece is also known as Macedonia. Greece, before this vote, referred to their northern neighbor as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM. Some Greeks say that Macedonians are making unjust claims over Greek territory or heritage.Read moreMacedonia agrees to a new name, ending a 27-year dispute with GreeceAnalysis: After 27 years, Greece and Macedonia have resolved their contentious ‘naming dispute.’ Here’s how.Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the worldLike Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign newsThis story was originally published by Washington Post via: USAHintCall our Editor on 0209391902 or click here and inform us via Whatsapp. You could equally email your stories or articles to and we’ll surely put them online

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