ATHENS, GRECE.- Greece and Macedonia reached an historic agreement Tuesday to end a bitter 27- year name dispute that had kept the smaller and younger country out of international institutions such as NATO, the two countries’ prime ministers announced.
Greece’s Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev said the former Yugoslav republic’s new name for both domestic and international purposes would be Republic of Northern Macedonia.
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Macedonia will also amend its constitution to reflect the change as part of the deal. The nationality of the country’s citizens will be listed on official documents as “Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of Macedonia.”
NATO and European Union officials welcomed the breakthrough, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said would help consolidate regional peace and stability. Greece had long demanded that
its northern neighbor change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of the region in northern Greece named Macedonia — birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.
The current prime ministers’ attempts to end the dispute have faced dissent in both countries, leading to large protests by opponents of a compromise, threatening to split Greece’s governing coalition and provoking a rift between Macedonia’s prime minister and president. And main opposition parties in both countries rejected the agreement.