Greek parliament approves protocol for Macedonia to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Austria Macedonia

Austria Macedonia

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras defended the agreement Greece signed with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to end a long-standing dispute over the country's name, saying he believed his government has "done its patriotic duty".

The Greek Parliament has approved a measure for North Macedonia to join NATO, ending a decades-old dispute.

The ratification by the Greek MPs of the protocol signed by permanent representatives of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states earlier this week at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, opens the way for Greece's northern neighbour to start using its new name.

Last week, parliament ratified a historic deal to end the dispute about Macedonia's name, paving the way for the Balkan country to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

The main catalyst for the change was FYROM's wish to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and, eventually, the European Union, and western countries' desire to diminish Russian influence in the region.

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It also exposed old rivalries with Russian Federation, in a region where Moscow jostles for influence with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

Athens asserted that the use of the name "Macedonia" suggests Skopje has territorial claims to Greece's northern region of Macedonia.

One lawmaker described the pact as "worth spitting at", another that Greece was "humiliated".

"I would like to again welcome North Macedonia, a country that is friendly toward Greece, a country that must be a supporter - and not an opponent - of our efforts to establish safety, stability, and cooperation in the wider region", said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras. "Today we vote against the accession protocol, because it seals a national defeat at Prespes", he said.

The Greek Parliament on January 26 passed the Macedonia name-change deal with a majority of 153 votes in favour of the deal, while the 146 legislators voting against the deal, out of a total 300-seats in the Parliament.

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