Macedonian parliament agrees to change country's name as agreed with Greece

Macedonia a decades-long quarrel over a name

Macedonia a decades-long quarrel over a name

Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati on Friday tweeted after the vote that "the contribution of Albanian political parties once again proved to be a decisive factor".

Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of Macedonia's largest opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, called for the dissolution of the parliament and holding snap elections after the legislature approved constitutional amendments necessary for renaming the country under a deal with Greece.

Greece has blocked the path to those worldwide organisations since Macedonia broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 because, it had said, the name Macedonia should apply exclusively to its own northern province.

Eighty-one of the 120 lawmakers in Macedonia's parliament voted on Friday to approve a constitutional amendment to change the country's name, NPR's Joanna Kakissis reports from Athens.

Ethnic Albanians make up about a quarter of Macedonia's 2.1 million people.

Several hundred people have protested against the deal in front of parliament over the past three days.

Tsipras added that a separate vote on a protocol to enable Macedonia to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation would be held "not long afterwards". The so-called Prespa agreement seeks to end a 27-year-long dispute between Athens and Skopje over the name Macedonia.

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"The prime minister congratulated Mr Zaev on the successful conclusion of the process to revise the constitution of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia", Tsipras' office said in a statement, after the vote.

The junior coalition partner in Greece's government opposes the deal, but Tsipras has voiced confidence he will be able to secure ratification with the backing of opposition lawmakers.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev agreed to rename the country in a compromise with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipr last June.

Tsipras has said he sees the Macedonia deal as "one of his greatest legacies" as premier, second only to leading Greece out of the bailout era.

Athens argues that use of the term "Macedonia" implies territorial claims on Greece's northern province of the same name and on its ancient heritage.

The Friday vote brought an end to months of political bickering in Macedonia that included a controversial consultative referendum in September and a long parliamentary battle.

The main opposition conservative New Democracy party also rejects the agreement, but Tsipras can rely on lawmakers from the small pro-EU To Potami party to get it approved.

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