Skopje: The Macedonian Parliament unanimously agreed to change the name of the country to the Republic of North Macedonia, ending a long-drawn dispute between Greece and Macedonia over this issue.
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, while addressing the Parliament before the historic vote on Friday, said “We should raise our heads high, move past all the issues that divided our society,” as quoted by The New York Times.
For decades, Macedonia has been trying to gain membership of the North American Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU). However, Greece raised objections against the official usage of Macedonia’s name, arguing that it implies territorial aspirations against a northern Greek region with the same name.
At the same time, Greece also claimed that using Macedonia’s name officially was an attempt to annex the ancient civilisation of Macedonia, which was a Greek kingdom ruled by Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great.
The agreement signed last year on June 12 by the Macedonian lawmakers to change the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would wipe out the last remnant of Yugoslavia’s name from the world map.
Meanwhile, Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg said the constitutional changes in the official name of the country marks a ‘historic’ victory for Macedonians.
“NATO strongly supports the full implementation of the agreement, which is an important contribution to a stable and prosperous region,” Stoltenberg added.
Acknowledging the end of the dispute between Greece and Macedonia, High representative of the European Union Federica Mogherini, was quoted as saying in a statement, “Political leaders and citizens alike have shown their determination to seize this unique and historic opportunity in solving one of the oldest disputes in the region.”
“The E.U. strongly supports this agreement which sets an example of reconciliation for the region and Europe as a whole,” she added.