Greek parliament votes to approve Macedonia’s name changeAdriatic Journal 25 January 2019
Prespa agreement was ratified in parliament after 38 hours of discussion, and the outcome was tight – 153 MPs supported the agreement, while 146 opposed it. It was similarly tight in the Maceodnian parliament earlier in January when it voted on the amendment to the consitutituion as per the agreement – 81 deputies in the 120-seat parliament voted in favour.
Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, said that a “new page” was written in the history of the Balkans.
According to Tsipras, North Macedonia will be a friendly country and an ally of Greece
After the vote, the Greek government in Athens is expected to inform NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that the proceedings have been completed. Then, the Alliance is expected to prepare a protocol for Macedonia’s accession – it is anticipated that Macedonian politicians will be invited to sign it at the beginning of February. Immediately afterwards, Greece is expected to ratify the invitation for Macedonia’s membership in NATO, after which the constitutional changes adopted by the Macedonian parliament come into force. It is then that Macedonia becomes Republic of North Macedonia and an agreement with Greece is in force.
Many Greeks, however, believe that Tsipras gave too many concessions to the Macedonians by allowing it to retain the name shared by the Greek province with the rich past. On the other hand, Macedonian opposition parties and nationalists believe that changing the country’s name and national symbols is a price too high to pay for Nato membership.
Extra efforts will be needed for countries to conserve their newly-found cooperation
Indeed, Jure Stojan, partner at ISR, says that “had this name change happened ten years ago, it would have been an unmitigated success.”
But, Stojan adds, “given the highly volatile geopolitics of the times, the most we can realistically say is that it is an important natural experiment.
The #Prespa agreement resolving the name dispute between #Greece and soon to be North Macedonia is a historic breakthrough for the two countries, the region and Europe as a whole. I applaud the leaders on both sides for their courage and vision! @Zoran_Zaev @tsipras_eu 1/4— Johannes Hahn (@JHahnEU) January 25, 2019