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Northern light: Macedonia makes name change deal with Greece

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Greece, Macedonia 'Have A Deal' On Name Dispute

"I'm happy because we have a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side", he told Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during a televised meeting.

"Our bid in the compromise is a defined and precise name, the name that is honourable and geographically precise - Republic of Northern Macedonia".

There was no immediate comment from Macedonian officials.

"This achieves a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbours and puts an end to the irredentism which their current constitutional name implies", he said.

The dispute over the "Macedonia" name had been a thorn in relations of the two countries at least since 1991, when Macedonia broke away from former Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.

Greece had long demanded that its northern neighbour 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.

In the 1995 interim bilateral accord, Greece agreed that the term "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM) would be applied to Macedonia until the dispute is settled.

Greece's parliament will be called to ratify the agreement after Macedonian lawmakers approve it, provided that Skopje fulfils preliminary European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation requirements to begin membership talks, Kotzias said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday's "historic agreement" was "testament to many years of patient diplomacy", and called on the two countries' prime ministers to finalize the deal. In the 4th Century BC, the Macedonian Empire ruled by Alexander the Great included what is now modern Greece.

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Matthew Nimetz said in a statement Tuesday he has "no doubt this agreement will lead to a period of enhanced relations between the two neighboring countries and especially between their people".

Both Albania and Macedonia hope to launch full membership negotiations with the European Union.

In Skopje, meanwhile, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said earlier in the day that he remained opposed to writing the new name into the constitution, a move meant to show the change is permanent and binding for domestic and global use.

"In other words, if the constitutional amendment is not successfully completed, then the invitation to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will be automatically rescinded and the accession talks with the European Union will not start", he said. "Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible", he said.

The deal still needs to be approved by the Macedonian and Greek parliaments. I believe in the democracy of the internet and want to keep this site and its enriching content free for everyone.

The two prime ministers are expected to sign the agreement over the next weekend.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias had prepared a 20-page draft agreement after repeated talks with his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Dimitrov.

"We don't agree and we won't vote for any deal including the name 'Macedonia, '" Panos Kammenos, Greek Defense Minister and head of the rightist Independent Greeks party, said.

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