New Macedonia Name Ends Dispute With Greece, But Will Macedonian President Sign?
Macedonia has agreed to change its national name to resolve a decades-long dispute with neighboring Greece. The move will end a 27-year conflict with Greece over the name. Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced an agreement to adopt the “Republic of Northern Macedonia” as Macedonia’s new name.
One potential roadblock to the name change is Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov who revealed he won’t sign off on the new name just yet as the agreement gave to many concessions to Greece, the Washington Post reported.
“My position is final, and I will not yield to any pressure, blackmail or threats. I will not support or sign such a damaging agreement,” Ivanov said.
“European Union and NATO membership cannot be an excuse to sign such a bad agreement which has unforeseeable damaging consequences for state and national interests of the Republic of Macedonia,” Ivanov also said.
A 27-Year Feud Between Macedonia and Greece
The conflict between Macedonia and Greece started in 1991 when Macedonia peacefully achieved independence from Yugoslavia, but Greece balked at the name. Greece claimed the name implied territorial ambitions and could empower the new country to lay claim to the Greek region known as Macedonia. The Macedonia region in Greece is located in the northern part of the country and is home to both Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, and Philippi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ever since 1991 Greece has contested Macedonia’s name, to which the United Nations has responded by calling it the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece’s lingering dispute with Macedonia has stood in the way of the latter joining NATO and the European Union.
Will The New Name Pass?
Following the surprise announcement on Tuesday from Macedonia and Greece, the two countries’ foreign ministers are expected to sign the deal this weekend. The next step will be for Macedonia’s parliament to pass the measure. If it passes Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov will need to ratify it.
If Ivanov refuses to sign the deal, then the agreement returns to the Macedonian parliament for the second time. If parliament passes the deal again it once again goes back to Ivanov for his signature.
Congratulations Republic of Northern Macedonia
Congratulations on the agreement came in from around the world. The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said in a tweet: “I am keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible.” NATO and the U.S. also supported the agreement.
I welcome the historic agreement by @tsipras_eu & @Zoran_Zaev on the name dispute between Athens and Skopje. I thank them for their will to solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long & call on both countries to finalise the agreement. https://t.co/EuDQcI1AYe pic.twitter.com/BnSwod1IS2
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) June 12, 2018
.@StateDeptSpox: The United States congratulates Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev and welcomes the historic agreement on Macedonia name issue. We stand ready to support this agreement, as requested by the two countries. https://t.co/poAa1ayNsg
— Department of State (@StateDept) June 13, 2018
Even Hollywood chimed in:
Random Firenze thoughts…
I ❤️ Greece .
I ❤️ Macedonia .
Hope it all works out.
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) June 13, 2018