Northern light: Macedonia makes name change deal with Greece

Greece argued that by calling itself Republic of Macedonia the neighboring country was stating a territorial claim of the Greek northern province, also called Macedonia.

"The name [will be] the Republic of North Macedonia translated into all languages for general use", Zaev said, as aired by the Macedonian TV channels. Tsipras and Zaev spoke on the phone yesterday for an hour, and said they would continue their conversation today.

Greece had long demanded that its northern neighbor change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of the region in northern Greece named Macedonia - birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.

"The chance is here and it must be seized, bravely, as this is the only patriotic way", Macedonian Prime Minisrter Zoran Zaev told a press conference in Skopje.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on May 19 that the name of the "Republic of Ilinden Macedonia" could be a possible compromise to be reached between Skopje and Athens in a dispute over the name of the country.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that all of Greece's concerns had been addressed with the new name, according to the Associated Press.

Because of Greek objections, Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations under a provisional name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

But Macedonia feared that a name change could have a negative impact on the national identity of its people, the majority of whom simply call themselves "Macedonians". Officials in Greece and Macedonia say Tuesday, June 12, 2018, they are close to reaching a landmark deal on a long-standing name dispute, to protect Greece's region of Macedonia, birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great, but the Greek coalition partner has vowed to vote against the proposed agreement.

While the debate over the name might seem trivial, Greece has gone as far as to block Macedonia from joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or the European Union because of its name. There were also rallies in Macedonia in spring, demanding the country's name to be left in place.

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