Macedonia and Greece reach agreement in name dispute

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia Bulgaria

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia Bulgaria

Tsipras said in a televised statement that Macedonia's name change would allow a clear distinction between Greece's province of Macedonia and the neighbouring country.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves the Presidential Palace following his meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos (not pictured) in Athens, Greece, June 12, 2018.

Tsipras and his Macedonian counterpart, Zoran Zaev, discussed the issue by phone on Tuesday.

Athens, which like all members of both organisations has a veto over admissions, objected to its neighbour's use of the name Macedonia, arguing that it, along with articles in the constitution, could imply territorial claims over its own northern region of the same name.

In the 1995 interim bilateral accord, Greece agreed that the term "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM) would be applied to Macedonia until the dispute is settled.

The row has stymied Macedonian attempts to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance in a region where the two organizations jostle for influence with Russian Federation. Tsipras was widely expected to give a state address later in the day.

Previous comments from the Macedonian side have indicated that solutions could involve adding a modifier to the country's official name, such as "Upper" or "Northern" to satisfy Athens, although nationalists in Macedonian have opposed such concessions.

The prime minister of Greece says his country has reached an agreement with Macedonia to end a decades-old dispute over the neighboring country's name.

The agreement would be submitted for ratification to Greece's parliament only if Macedonia met its side of the deal, Tsipras said.

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