Macedonian parliament agrees to change country’s name | Greece News

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The Macedonian parliament has amended the constitution to rename the country as the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev secured the required majority in parliament on Friday that was needed to rename the country in line with a landmark agreement with Greece to end a decades-long dispute.

Parliamentary speaker Talad Xhaferi said 81 MPs voted in favour of the name change in the 120-seat chamber, securing the required two-thirds majority. 

Representatives of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, who opposed the agreement with Greece, boycotted the vote.

Earlier, a spokesperson for the governing Social Democrats said the ethnic Albanian lawmakers also agreed to back the deal.

Macedonia ‘yes’ vote clouded by low turnout

Delays had also marked the October vote that launched the procedure to change the constitution, also with a two-thirds majority.

The deal encountered strong opposition from both sides of the border, with critics saying it offered too many concessions to the other side.

Over the past three days, several hundred people protested against the deal in front of the parliament.

Zaev agreed on the name change with Greek counterpart and fellow leftist Alexis Tsipras in June.

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.

Greece is bound by terms of the deal to stop blocking Macedonia from NATO and other international groups and to allow it to start EU accession talks as part of the deal.
The so-called Prespa agreement seeks to end a 27-year-long dispute between Athens and Skopje over the name Macedonia.

The Greeks have accused their northern neighbours of intent to steal the identity and even territory from their own ancient province with that name, which Macedonia has denied.

Macedonian approval of the name change does not end the issue though. The Greek government is struggling to hold up its end of the bargain, and is struggling to secure the political support required to ratify the agreement reached last June.

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras has said he wants to bring the deal – which has brought his coalition government to the brink of breakup – to parliament in coming weeks.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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