Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Greek defence minister resigns over Macedonia name change

Macedonia Lawmakers Set Again To Debate Name Change Amid Uncertainty Greece-FYR Macedonia dispute: MPs back historic name change to Republic of North Macedonia
Patty Aguilar | 13 January, 2019, 15:43

Macedonia's center-left government said Friday it has secured the required number of parliamentary votes to finalize constitutional changes that will rename the country North Macedonia and pave the way to NATO membership.

Eighty-one deputies in the 120-seat parliament voted in favor, securing the required two-thirds majority, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he will call a confidence vote after his governing coalition split over the Macedonia name change.

Representatives of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE boycotted the vote that took place on January 11.

All 81 Macedonian lawmakers present for the parliamentary vote backed the constitutional amendments.

The Macedonian parliament's ratification has been hailed by several foreign leaders, including NATO General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Stoltenberg said in a tweet Friday that the agreement is "an important contribution to a stable and prosperous region".

The Macedonian Prime Minister has called on Greece to follow suit after his parliament ratified a deal that would see the country renamed Republic of North Macedonia.

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The Macedonian parliament's ratification has been hailed by several foreign leaders, including NATO General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Kammenos resigned following a Sunday morning meeting with Tsipras.

Tsipras said that he aims to hold a general election at the latest possible date, October 2019.

Since 1991, Athens has objected to its neighbour being called Macedonia because it has its own northern province of the same name, which in ancient times was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire - a source of intense pride for modern-day Greeks.

ANEL is the junior party in Greece's ruling coalition and strongly opposes the name change, a rift that threatens to destabilise the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who helped broker the deal.

Macedonia's parliament ratified the name change deal on Friday, but it will not go into effect until Athens does the same.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally invited Macedonia to join the military alliance in 2008, but Greece vetoed the move, claiming that Macedonia's name implies territorial aspirations toward Greece's northern province with the same name as well as appropriating Greece's historical heritage. Many countries, including Turkey, recognize Macedonia with its present name.

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