Greece and Macedonia end 27-year feud over name

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

After several meetings, Athens and Skopje agreed on Tuesday that the country will be renamed the "Republic of North Macedonia" and that Macedonia should amend its constitution accordingly.

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.

The dispute poisoned relations between the two neighbours, and the United Nations appointed a special envoy to mediate.

Athens, which has a northern region also called Macedonia bordering on the ex-Yugoslav republic, objected to the name, demanding it be changed.

Athens say that name implies territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name.

The two nations settled on a name- certain to incite controversy amongst many Greeks both inside the country, as well as outside her borders.

"In other words, if the constitutional amendment is not successfully completed, then the invitation to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will be automatically rescinded and the accession talks with the European Union will not start", he said.

Greece will then back invitations for Macedonia to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and start negotiations on joining the EU.

In 2001, Greece, the only country in the region with EU, NATO and eurozone membership, expressed support for Skopje, faced by an armed conflict with ethnic Albanian rebels. "And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans".

European Council President Donald Tusk congratulated both sides.

The "historic agreement" contributes "to the transformation of the entire region of south-east Europe", the European Union enlargement commissioner and foreign affairs chief, Johannes Hahn and Federica Mogherini, said.

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Greece and Macedonia have reached a historic accord to resolve a decades-old dispute over the name of the tiny Balkan nation, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said.

Mr Tsipras's comments came shortly after a much-anticipated phone call with Mr Zaev.

"After months of negotiation we've managed to reach a deal that'll solve our longstanding difference over the name of our neighbour", Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras said on TV.

He said that Macedonia "cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilisation of Macedonia".

"Maybe what has the most historic gravity and value for Greece is that according to this accord. our northern neighbours don't have, and can not assert, any link to the ancient Greek culture of Macedonia", Tsipras said on Tuesday, in remarks that might sting a Macedonian nationalist.

Mr Tsipras added: "The name change will be implemented not only the country's global relations but also domestically". He did not, however, spell out what the name will be.

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov repeated his concerns about the deal, which he has said should not change the way Macedonians refer to their country internally or require constitutional changes.

Macedonia was a republic under the former Yugoslavia and initially lacked state identity.

Officials had earlier told Reuters a deal over the name was imminent.

A resolution of the dispute would see Greece lift objection to Macedonia's accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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