Macedonia to be called 'Republic of Northern Macedonia'

Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute

Macedonia will be named the Republic of North Macedonia, or Severna Makedonija in Macedonian, after reaching a deal with Greece on the decades-long name issue, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said.

Greek officials earlier said the list of potential names included "New Macedonia" and "Upper Macedonia", but after months of discussions "North Macedonia" was chosen.

Greece has been insisting that use of the name "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim to Greece's own northern province of Macedonia, and a claim to Greece's ancient heritage.

Ancient Macedonia was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a point of pride to Greeks today.

Skopje took on the name Macedonia in 1991, following its independence, and Greece vetoed its bid to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union over the name dispute.

Zaev said resolving the longstanding issue would open Macedonia's access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

Athens, which has a northern region also called Macedonia bordering on the ex-Yugoslav republic, objected to the name, demanding it be changed.

In the 1995 interim bilateral accord, Greece agreed that the term "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM) would be applied to Macedonia until the dispute is settled.

If you're planning to travel to Macedonia to see its handsome scenery and historic destinations, it might be good to check the exact name of the country before you leave.


But Greeks seem cool to any deal involving the continued use of the name "Macedonia" by their northern neighbour.

In February, as NPR's Joanna Kakassis reported, more than 140,000 Greeks marched to parliament in Athens as part of a "Macedonia is Greece" rally, chanting that the name "is in our soul".

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

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday's "historic agreement" was "testament to many years of patient diplomacy", and called on the two countries' prime ministers to finalize the deal. However, Tsipras said, this will be contingent on Macedonia completing the constitutional changes.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted his "sincere congratulations" to Tsipras and Zaev. I believe in the democracy of the internet and want to keep this site and its enriching content free for everyone. "Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible", he said. That challenge will still be a mountain to climb, as Greek Prime Minister Tsipras has not yet secured any support in parliament.

The two prime ministers are expected to sign the agreement over the next weekend.

Greek opponents of the deal say it would not go far enough.

The main opposition party in Macedonia, the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, accused Zaev of "capitulating" to Greece.

Greece also demanded that Macedonia drops from its flag the rayed sun of Vergina, which it claimed was an ancient Greek symbol, as well as certain articles from its constitution. The dispute poisoned relations between the two neighbours, and the United Nations appointed a special envoy to mediate.

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