Wednesday, 19 June 2019
Latest news
Main » Macedonia's parliament votes to accept new name

Macedonia's parliament votes to accept new name

13 January 2019

Macedonia late Friday fulfilled its part of a historic deal that will pave its way to NATO membership and normalize relations with neighboring Greece, after lawmakers approved constitutional changes to rename the country North Macedonia.

Macedonian approval of the name change does not end the issue though.

The change is the result of a dispute between Macedonia and Greece over history and national identity that has lasted 27 years.

The coalition has a razor-thin majority with 153 seats in the 300 member parliament and its main opposition, the New Democracy party, has vowed to block the deal.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev agreed to rename the country in a compromise with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipr last June.

The order for a preliminary investigation came after two Greek news websites reported that lawmakers had received threatening text messages to vote against the deal, the source said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas hailed the vote, expressing expectations "that Republic of North Macedonia will soon be able to join NATO and start discussions for entry into the European Union". Representatives of the opposition conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, who said the agreement concedes too much to Greece, boycotted the vote.

People gather outside the parliament building in Macedonia to protest the country's name change to North Macedonia.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had required a minimum 80 votes to have the changes ratified.

Under the agreement, after Skopje cements the name change with constitutional amendments, Tsipras is to push the ratification of the agreement through the Greek parliament.

- This item corrects the number of opposition lawmakers staying away to 39.

Adding his congratulations late Friday, was Matthew Nimetz, the U.N. Secretary-General's personal envoy on the name dispute since 1999, who said that the agreement is a move towards 'a firmer basis for peace and security in the Balkans'.

"The prime minister congratulated Mr Zaev on the successful conclusion of the process to revise the constitution of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia", Tsipras' office said in a statement.

Eighty-one deputies in the 120-seat parliament voted in favour of the amendment.

The name change follows an agreement with neighboring Greece, which in turn is bound by the terms of the deal to remove its objections to Macedonia joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and then potentially the European Union.

Macedonia's parliament votes to accept new name