Greece and Macedonia reach deal to end decades-old name dispute

Athens contends that the name Macedonia represents a territorial claim over Greece's northern province, also named Macedonia.

After splitting from the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia was admitted into the United Nations in 1993 as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

"We don't agree and we won't vote for any deal including the name 'Macedonia, '" Panos Kammenos, Greek Defense Minister and head of the rightist Independent Greeks party, said.

"We have a combined name with a geographic qualifier for all uses", Tsipras said as quoted by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) news agency. A meeting of the two soon may seal the deal, he said.

"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.

"By solving the name question, we are becoming a member of NATO", Zaev added. The new name will be used both domestically and internationally, while Macedonia will also amend its constitution as part of the deal.

The name dispute has poisoned relations between the two countries since Macedonia's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and has prevented Macedonia from joining worldwide institutions such as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

On the timeline of the deal, Tsipras said that it would be first signed by the two countries' foreign ministers and then ratified by Macedonia's parliament.

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Many Greeks felt their northern neighbor was trying to hijack Greece's ancient cultural heritage. He added that Macedonia "cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia".

Macedonia has agreed to change its name to Northern Macedonia in order to end a decades-old row with Greece, which among other things prevented the former Yugoslav republic from joining the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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

The announcement came after telephone talks with Greek counterpart, Alexis Tsipras, on Tuesday.

But the leftist leader is still likely to win support from center-left parties.

Greece and Macedonia are involved in a longtime dispute over the name of the Republic of Macedonia.

"I am encouraged by the dedication of both governments to deliver mutual benefits for all their citizens through the establishment of a strategic partnership as a basis for intensified cooperation across all sectors", he said in a statement.

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