Greece and Macedonia end 27-year feud over name

EU welcomes ‘historic’ agreement on Macedonia name issue By European Interest

EU welcomes ‘historic’ agreement on Macedonia name issue By European Interest

Relations sank with the erection of a huge statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje in 2011.

Officials in Albania are hailing the agreement between bordering Greece and Macedonia to end their decades-long name dispute as good for the whole Western Balkans region.

It was only with the adoption of a provisional name - the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) - that the country was finally admitted into the United Nations in 1993.

The new name will be used both domestically and internationally, while Macedonia will also amend its constitution as part of the deal.

"We have a combined name with a geographic qualifier for all uses", Tsipras said as quoted by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) news agency.

Basically, way back in 1991 the two countries fell out when Macedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia.

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement congratulating the two prime ministers "in reaching this historic agreement between their countries, which contributes to the transformation of the entire region of South-East Europe".

"We have a deal", Mr Tsipras said.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves the Presidential Palace following his meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos (not pictured) in Athens, Greece, June 12, 2018.

The issue has been heated, and one with very real repercussions for Macedonia: It hasn't been able to join the European Union or North Atlantic Treaty Organisation because Greece opposed its name. "Greece considers Macedonia a non-negotiable part of its history", explains NPR.

The statements from diplomats trumpeting today's deal reflect the linguistic awkwardness of the issue. Additionally, countries will be able to use both the English or the Slavic version of the name.

"This historic agreement is testament to many years of patient diplomacy and to the willingness of these two leaders to solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long", said Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Many Greeks felt their northern neighbor was trying to hijack Greece's ancient cultural heritage. Macedonia's flag is emblazoned with the Sun of Vergina - a symbol associated with the dynasty of Alexander and his father Philip.

Greece had long demanded the former Yugoslav republic change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of Greece's northern region of Macedonia - birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the deal will bolster regional security and prosperity and that the United States congratulates both prime ministers for their "vision, courage and persistence".

For more than a year, Nimetz was U.S. President Bill Clinton's envoy on the issue of whether Macedonia could be called that.

The following month they opened liaison offices in their respective capitals and a new Macedonian flag - with the controversial sun replaced - was raised for the first time at the UN.

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