North Macedonia: Why does a country change its name?

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At least 13 people were killed and more than 30 others injured when a passenger bus overturned on a highway in North Macedonia on Wednesday (Feb 13), the health minister said.

Government members, former prime ministers, ambassadors and religious leaders gathered outside the government building in Skopje on Tuesday for the symbolic raising of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation flag, as Macedonia makes its final steps towards membership.

In his marking of the historic day, North Macedonia's foreign minister, Nikola Dimitrov, took the time to reflect on what the changes meant for the country's future diplomatic relationships, particularly with neighbouring Greece.

At the Bogorodica border crossing with Greece, Macedonian workers on Wednesday placed stencils on road signs bearing their country's official new name, the Republic of North Macedonia, making a first step in implementing a landmark deal with Athens.

But following a 28-year dispute, Greece's parliament finally came to an agreement in January on a name change for FYR Macedonia, to the Republic of North Macedonia.

Workers remove a road sign that reads "Republic of Macedonia" in the southern border with Greece, near Gevgelija, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.

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The country plans to give the United Nations and its member states formal notice of the name change within days, he said.

Skopje and Athens buried a 27-year dispute in agreeing in June last year to rename Macedonia as North Macedonia.

Within four months, the Interior Ministry will start issuing new vehicle license plates with the abbreviation NMK, while new passports will be issued at the end of this year, Zernovski said.

A government press release said that changes will also be made to notice boards at airports, while the country's central bank will draft plans for replacing the circulating currency with the old one-word name.

Greece found the use of the country's former name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, controversial due to it being a similar name for a region in Greece's north.

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