Macedonia changes its name to end bitter 27-year dispute with Greece

Greece and Macedonia reached a historic agreement Tuesday to end a bitter 27-year name dispute that had kept the smaller and younger country out of global institutions such as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the two countries' prime ministers announced.

"We have a deal".

"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.

"The name [will be] the Republic of North Macedonia translated into all languages for general use", Zaev said, as aired by the Macedonian TV channels.

The nationality of the country's citizens will be listed on official documents as "Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of Macedonia".

The prime minister of Greece says his country has reached an agreement with Macedonia to end a decades-old dispute over the neighboring country's name.

The name dispute has soured relations between the two neighbours at least since 1991, when Macedonia broke away from former Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.

Athens objected to its neighbor's new name, saying it implied a territorial claim over Greece's province of the same name, which borders the Balkan country.

The 27-year dispute has led to frequent disagreement and protests, but the two countries agreed on the new title of the former Yugoslav republic after months of intensive diplomacy.

Zaev said the deal would open the way for the tiny Balkan nation's eventual membership of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, now blocked by Greece's objections to its use of the name Macedonia.

The deal was welcomed by EU officials, with European Council president Donald Tusk tweeting his "sincere congratulations" to Mr Tsipras and Mr Zaev.

Ancient Macedonia was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a point of pride to Greeks today.

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

"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is not successfully completed, then the invitation to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will be automatically rescinded and the accession talks with the European Union will not start", he said.

"The name change will be implemented not only the country's worldwide relations but also domestically", Tsipras said adding that Skopje would need to revise its constitution. "I am keeping my fingers crossed".

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

"This is a bad agreement that is in conflict with the majority of the Greek people", he said.

The EU's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the deal "contributes to the transformation of the entire region of southeast Europe".

But Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, whose right-wing Independent Greeks party is Tsipras' junior coalition partner, said he would reject the name agreement in a parliamentary vote.

The deal still needs to be approved by the Macedonian and Greek parliaments.

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