Macedonia and Greece: Vote settles 27-year name dispute

Greece’s parliament has voted narrowly to back a historic agreement ending a 27-year dispute over its northern neighbour’s name.

Parliament in Athens agreed by 153 votes to 146 to approve the name Republic of North Macedonia, despite widespread opposition from the public.

“North Macedonia was born today,” said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Greece has rejected Macedonia’s name since its independence in 1991, as there is a Greek region of that name.

Failure to find an appropriate name meant that Greece frustrated Macedonia’s drive to join both Nato and the European Union.

Opposition to the deal is strongest in the northern Greek region of Macedonia, and polls suggest more than 60% of Greeks dislike it.

Thousands of people protested outside parliament on Thursday night, but far smaller numbers braved the torrential rain on Friday as the vote took place.

How leaders reacted

Mr Tsipras, who was involved in negotiating the deal, said it was a “historic day”.

“Congratulations my friend,” his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev responded on Twitter. “Together with our peoples we reached a historic victory.”

There were warm words from EU officials, who praised both countries for setting “an example of reconciliation for Europe” by resolving “one of the most entrenched disputes in the region”.

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