'We have a deal,' say Greece and Macedonia over name dispute

Elias Hubbard
June 13, 2018

The United Nations envoy who has tried to mediate the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia for almost as long as the dispute has existed is congratulating the countries' prime ministers for resolving their differences.

Matthew Nimetz said in a statement he had "no doubt this agreement will lead to a period of enhanced relations between the two neighbouring countries and especially between their people". He told the BBC previous year that he probably has spent more time thinking about the word "Macedonia" than anyone, including in the country itself.

Matthew Nimetz, a retired US diplomat, has been the United Nations mediator on the issue since 1994.

Macedonia had proposed four names to resolve the dispute: Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Upper Macedonia, Republic of Vardar Macedonia and Republic of Macedonia (Skopje).

"Today is a hard day for the Republic of Macedonia".

"I now call on both countries to finalise the agreement reached by the two leaders". The European Commission in April approved the start of accession talks.

The name dispute has soured relations between the two neighbours at least since 1991, when Macedonia broke away from former Yugoslavia.

'This will set Skopje on its path to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Credit PA
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Credit PA

"We must now make good use of the window of opportunity that has been pushed wide open to accompany and consolidate the winds of peace and cooperation in the entire region". "We have a combined name with a geographic qualifier for all uses", Tsipras said as quoted by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) news agency. So if you like The Pappas Post and want to help, please consider becoming a "philotimo subscriber".

Athens and Skopje have been racing to agree the outline of a settlement before an European Union summit in late June.

Tsipras and Zaev spoke on the phone yesterday for an hour, and said they would continue their conversation today.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed the nation in a 5-minute televised address to announce the deal with his counterpart, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

Greece had long demanded that Macedonia change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and heritage of the region, the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement congratulating the two prime ministers "in reaching this historic agreement between their countries, which contributes to the transformation of the entire region of South-East Europe".

On June 6, thousands of people protested in major cities across Greece against the compromise, while, four days earlier, like numbers of supporters of Macedonia's right-wing opposition VMRO-DPMNE party took to the streets of the capital, Skopje, to protest against a deal.

Tsipras says the name would be used by the country both domestically and internationally.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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