Greece and Macedonia End Name Dispute - For Now

Greece's left-led coalition government survived a no-confidence vote in parliament Saturday brought over a deal to end a decades-old dispute with neighboring Macedonia concerning the latter's name.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to weather the vote which takes place a day before the foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia are to meet on the border for a historic signing ceremony.

Greek objections delayed United Nations recognition of Macedonia until April 1993 and then only as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU's foreign service, announced in a statement that the bloc's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn will attend the signing ceremony at Prespa lake on Sunday.

"A handsome and magnificent day", said Zaev before the signing ceremony. He added that it was a "mutually-beneficial agreement" for both sides.

Macedonians Zaev and Dimitrov arrived from across the lake on a small speedboat. The motion was rejected in a 153-127 vote, which paved the way for the historic signing on June 17. Riot police chased some of them across the square outside the Parliament.

In Greece, the deal only faces ratification in parliament once FYROM has completed its part of the process.

In Macedonia, President Gjorge Ivanov plans to exercise a one-time veto option to block the deal that the nationalist opposition has called a "capitulation". You can sign up to receive it directly here.

Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 under the provisional name of the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", but more than 120 countries including Russian Federation and the United States have recognised the Balkan country under the name of "Republic of Macedonia".

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The deal was met with fury by critics in both countries, who accuse their respective prime ministers of conceding too much.

Under the declassified deal, the Macedonian authorities are obliged to put explainers on monuments to Alexander the Great, of his father Philip and mother Olimpias and other monuments associated with antique Macedonia stating that they belong to Hellenic culture. May also revise school textbooks.

Hajiefremidis noted the ethnic and religious conflicts that generations of Greeks, Serbs and Bulgarians fought over the land that makes up present-day Macedonia.

A Reuters witness saw protesters pelting police with stones, chanting "Macedonia, Macedonia we will give our lives for Macedonia".

Athens has long objected to its northern neighbour's use of the name "Macedonia", saying it implies territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name and amounts to the appropriation of Greece's ancient cultural heritage.

One lawmaker from the government's junior coalition partner, the nationalist Independent Greeks, voted in favor of the move.

Feelings run as strongly in Macedonia, but there are wide differences of opinion. And indeed, one of the participants was agreeing to change its name.

Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov stressed the deal would pave the way for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union accession. "Imagine what (the deal) will mean, just for the flow of people. local business, revival of tourism", says Dimovski, who runs a beach bar just 50 metres from the border.

Following the referendum and the constitutional changes, Greece should ratify the deal at the end of the year. "For us none of it is valid", said Costas Venetikidis, a protester. The people's nationality will be defined as "Macedonian/Citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia".

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