Update: Greek parliament passes name deal with Macedonia
The Associated Press01/25/19, 08:33
The Latest on ratification of an agreement to resolve the place name dispute between Greece and Macedonia (all times local):
Greek lawmakers have ratified an agreement for the country to drop its objections to neighboring Macedonia joining NATO if the small country’s name is changed to North Macedonia.
The deal faced fierce opposition and had already cost Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras his parliamentary majority. It passed Friday with the support of independent lawmakers.
The ratification vote came after three days of acrimonious debate on the deal, which aimed to end a nearly three decade-long dispute that has kept Macedonia from joining the western military alliance and the European Union.
Greece has long argued use of the term Macedonia implied territorial claims on its own northern province of the same name, and usurped its culture and ancient Greek history.
Greek lawmakers are to wrap up three days of acrimonious parliamentary debate with a vote on a deal normalizing relations with Macedonia, under which Greece’s northern neighbor will rename itself North Macedonia and Athens will drop its objections to the country joining NATO.
More protests were scheduled in Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki Friday. Opposition is particularly fierce in the northern Greek region of Macedonia, which borders the former Yugoslav republic that claimed the same name after declaring independence in 1991. Critics claim the deal signs away their identity and a cultural heritage dating back to Alexander the Great more than 2,300 years ago.
The agreement has already cost Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras his parliamentary majority after the right-wing Independent Greeks quit the governing coalition in protest.