Why this story matters:
A historic agreement has ended the row over what to call the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The deal resolves longstanding tensions between Greece and its neighbor to the north, which will now be known as the Republic of North Macedonia (Severna Makedonja).
“After months of negotiation we have managed to reach a deal that will solve our longstanding differences over the name of our neighbor. They have agreed to rename their country the Republic of North Macedonia, a change that will apply in their international and bilateral relations and domestically ... The deal that we have reached for the first time ensures that they do not have, and in the future can never claim, any relationship to the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia. I am deeply convinced that this agreement is a great diplomatic victory, but also a historic opportunity ... a historic moment for the Balkans and our peoples,” said the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras.
Greece's dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been going on since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. Last Tuesday’s deal will finally end the cycle of negotiations and UN-mediated talks that have provoked profound political crises in both Greece and FYROM, fueled nationalist reflexes and seemed destined to end in an impasse.
Details from the story:
- The people of Severna Makedonja will be asked soon to vote in a referendum on whether they approve the deal, including the required constitutional changes.
- If the result of the referendum gives the green light then the Parliament will vote to ratify the amendment to the country’s constitution.
- The new name will be registered in the country’s constitution after the revision, while over 140 countries that recognize the country as “Macedonia” today, will recognize it by its new name.
- The agreement greenlights the country's NATO accession and the opening of the EU funds.
- The Macedonian ethnicity of Severna Makedonja is clearly separated from the ancient Macedonian identity and the Macedonian language is recognized as a Slavic language.
- On Saturday, June 16, 2018 the agreement will be signed by the PMs of the two countries. On the same day Greek nationalistic groups are organizing rallies against the agreement.
- It is worth noting that the organizers of those rallies have recently filed a lawsuit for high treason against the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- The European Council President, Donald Tusk, as well as Nato’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, were among the first to welcome the agreement.