(17 June 2018) – Greece and Macedonia today signed a historic preliminary agreement to rename the small Balkan nation the Republic of North Macedonia, ending a row that has poisoned relations between the two neighbours since 1991.
The accord aims to start unravelling one of the world’s longest diplomatic disputes, which began 27 years ago with Macedonia’s declaration of independence but whose roots date back centuries.
Since 1991, Athens has objected to its neighbour being called Macedonia because it has its own northern province of the same name, which in ancient times was the cradle of Alexander the Great’s empire — a source of intense pride for modern-day Greeks.
The accord still needs to be approved by Macedonia’s parliament and then pass a referendum. The Macedonian constitution must also be revised by the end of the year, before Greece’s parliament is called to ratify it.
Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 under the provisional name of the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (FYROM), but more than 120 countries including Russia and the United States have recognised the Balkan country under the name of “Republic of Macedonia”.
Skopje hopes to secure a date to begin EU accession talks at a bloc’s summit in late June and an invitation to join NATO in mid-July. (AFP)