Greece Ratifies Macedonia’s NATO Protocol

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a parliament session in Athens Friday Feb. 8 2019. Greek lawmakers are set Friday to approve Macedonia's NATO accession ending a process to normalize relations between the two neighbors

Greek parliament has ratified the accord between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Macedonia for the former Yugoslav republic to become a member of the alliance.

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a parliament session in Athens, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

The protocol was backed by 153 lawmakers in the 300-seat legislative body, with 140 lawmakers voting against it and one lawmaker abstaining from the vote.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members signed an accord with Macedonia on Wednesday, allowing the republic to become the 30th member of the USA -led alliance, after a deal with Greece ended a 27-year-old dispute over its name.

The NATO ratification process typically takes about a year, and the United States has said it expects North Macedonia to formally join the alliance in 2020. I feel we have done our patriotic duty, amid threats and blackmails.

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Since 1991, Athens has objected to its neighbour being called Macedonia because Greece has a northern province of the same name.

The accord over the name angered many Greeks who believed the ex-Yugoslav state was hijacking their history with a name linked to the Greek heritage of Alexander the Great, King of Macedon.

Greek approval of Macedonia's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accession bid is the final step in the deal.

Western countries strongly backed the deal between Greece and Macedonia, after the country's bid to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had been shelved for a decade and amid European concerns over Russia's vocal opposition to the alliance's expansion further into the Balkans.

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