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Greek folk dancers perform in front of a statue of Alexander III of Macedon Greek folk dancers perform in front of a statue of Alexander III of Macedon  (AFP or licensors)

Greece and Macedonia reach agreement ending a quarter century dispute

Dispute ends between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia who adopted the same name as Greece’s northern province when it gained its independence in 1991.

By John Carr

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has described as historic a deal he struck with the prime minister of neighbouring Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, that essentially ends a quarter-century-old dispute over the very name Macedonia.

Macedonia may become North Macedonia

Tsipras said that Zaev agreed to slightly rename his country as North Macedonia and to erase any hints at claims for Greek territory in his country’s constitution.

But Tsipras now faces a serious problem with the coalition partner, the nationalist Independent Greeks party, whose leader has threatened to bring down the Tsipras government if it agrees to any form of the name Macedonia for Greece’s northern neighbour.  The right-wing opposition calls the deal a sellout of national rights, and says it will vote down the agreement when it comes up for ratification in the Parliament later in the summer.

Ramifications

The agreement opens the way for Macedonia to apply for EU and Nato membership, and so Tsipras had been receiving approving messages from Brussels.  But given the considerable public opposition to any deal building up in Greece – as well as in Macedonia, by the way – its survival is by no means a foregone conclusion.

Listen to John Carr's report
13 June 2018, 17:24