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Macedonia's Prime Minister greets deputies after their vote to change the country's name to The Republic of North Macedonia Macedonia's Prime Minister greets deputies after their vote to change the country's name to The Republic of North Macedonia  (AFP or licensors)

Macedonia's name change boosts Greek President

Macedonia's name change appeases Greece and brings the country one step closer to membership in NATO. The change is the result of a dispute between Macedonia and Greece over history and national identity that has lasted 27 years, and has long reaching repercussions.

By John Carr

Friday night’s parliamentary vote in Skopje in favour of an official Macedonian name change appears to have boosted the position of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras here in Athens, whose government was in danger of collapse over that same issue.

The Skopje vote approves an official alteration of the name Macedonia to North Macedonia. That was the object of a tension-reducing agreement between the Greek and Macedonian prime ministers last summer. It boosts the chances that the Greek parliament will ratify the deal this month, despite vocal opposition from a large segment of the Greek public and opposition parties.

This past week Tsipras was challenged by his junior coalition partner, Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, who hoped to derail ratification by threatening to pull out of the government. But now that ratification in Athens is very likely, Kammenos has had to backtrack.

Earlier this week German Chancellor Angela Merkel called at Athens to figuratively knock heads together to promote the agreement, which would green-light Macedonia’s entry into the EU and Nato. All of which leaves Tsipras in a stronger position than before to get it officially on the books.

Listen to the report by John Carr
12 January 2019, 17:51