Serhat TUNAR -TDO- One of Europe’s most enduring political disputes came to a formal end Friday, with Greece’s parliament approving an agreement that allows Macedonia to change its name and eventually join NATO and the European Union.
The deal, approved in a 153-146 vote, was the final step in a precarious seven-month process that has included street protests, nationalist opposition, alleged Russian attempts at interference, and testy paths to ratification in both countries.
Greece has rejected Macedonia’s name ever since the country declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, as it has a region of the same name. The deal is deeply unpopular in Greece, with as many as 60 per cent of the population said to have been opposed to it. A large number of protesters demonstrated outside the Greek parliament while the name change was being debated.
The Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev hailed his Greek counterpart after the vote, saying: “Congratulations to my friend Alexis Tsipras. Together with our peoples we have reached a historical victory. Long live the Prespa Agreement! For eternal peace and progress of the Balkans and in Europe.”