Macedonia’s name change deal leads to political crisis in Greece

While the Macedonian parliament approved a deal with the Greek government over the name change of the country to North Macedonia, which paved the way for an end to a 27-year long bilateral dispute, the move has led to a political crisis in Greece.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has asked for a vote-of-confidence, following the resignation of a senior minister over the issue, that left his coalition government with no workable majority in parliament.

However, the decision of the Macedonia parliament has been appreciated by the international community.

“This historic Agreement between two neighbours opens the door to a new relationship between them and to a firmer basis for peace and security in the Balkans,” said Matthew Nimetz, UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the naming dispute.

The dispute dates back to 1991 when Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia and gave itself the name, which Greece opposed saying that it implied a claim on Greece’s own territory and cultural heritage.

When the country was admitted to the UN in 1993, it was called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRM), which has been used so far by international organisations.

The dispute has led to a bitter bilateral relation. Greece had blocked Macedonia’s NATO entry, as well as moves toward EU membership.

Following talks, with international mediation, people of Macedonia approved the name change, to North Macedonia, in a referendum held in September 2018.

The country had also modified its flag, which had included a symbol found in the grave of Philip II, ruler of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia and father of Alexander the Great.

Conservatives in Greece are still not happy about the deal and want the deal to be dropped as they believe the term Macedonia would imply territorial claims on Greece’s northern province of the same name.

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