Greece backs Macedonia's NATO accession, settles dispute - 2/8/2019 2:38:56 PM

Greek Parliament ratified the NATO accord with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) for its admission into the alliance under its new name, Republic of North Macedonia.

"Today's vote closes the most important round of obligations involving Greece", Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was quoted as saying before the vote in the Parliament.

Tsipras and his counterpart from Skopje, Zoran Zaev, achieved the Prespa Agreement, meant to bring to an end the decades-long dispute over the use of the name "Republic of Macedonia" by the former Yugoslav republic.

"Once again I would like to welcome from this floor North Macedonia, a friendly country for Greece who should be an ally and not against our efforts to boost security, stability and cooperation in the wider region", Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said addressing the plenary shortly before the vote.

A total of 153 lawmakers voted in favor and 140 against, with one abstention during the roll-call vote broadcast live on the parliament's television "Vouli" (Parliament).


"Clearly it is in Greece's interest to promote a European course for all its neighbors, not just for North Macedonia - and not (back) the influence of third forces in the neighborhood, with different aspirations and pursuits", Tsipras said. Despite strong misgivings from opposition parties and public opinion, both ratified it in parliament.

On Wednesday, Skopje signed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accession papers in Brussels that will lead to Macedonia becoming the alliance's 30th member once the bid has been ratified by all members.

The row centred around concerns that Skopje would make territorial claims to a neighbouring region in northern Greece, which Athens says has used the name Macedonia since the times of Alexander the Great. Provided lawmakers vote for the motion, Greece's foreign ministry will promptly notify the FYROM government of the result.

The next step is formally announcing the name change at the United Nations.

Konstantin Testorides contributed from Skopje, Macedonia.


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