Macedonia will be called the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said at a special press conference on Tuesday.
On Tuesday Zaev and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras held a telephone conversation. According to a source in the Greek government, the parties reached an agreement on the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia, which opens the way to the accession of Skopje to the European Union and NATO. Cipras later stated that a “good agreement” had been reached with Skopje on the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia, which he informed the President of Greece, Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
“Dear fellow citizens, we have a historic decision … The name of the Republic of Northern Macedonia with a translation into all languages for general use,” – said the head of government. Broadcast speech was conducted on Macedonian TV channels.
He added that the agreement should be signed by the Greek and Macedonian governments, and then ratified by the parliament. Zaev clarified that an amendment to the country’s constitution would be required. In the fall, the citizens of the republic will have to hold a referendum on the approval of the name.
It was stressed that identity – “Macedonians” – and the name “Macedonian language” are preserved.
Earlier Zaev had informed the head of the largest opposition party VMRO-DPME, Christian Mickoski, about the agreement reached. Political opponents of the prime minister and his ruling Social Democratic Union (SDSM) took time to prepare an official statement.
The dispute over the name between the two countries, which lasted 25 years, prevented Macedonia from joining NATO and the European Union. Greece demanded to change the name of the neighboring republic so that it would not be confused with the Greek region of Macedonia. Skopje looks forward to receiving the date for the start of EU accession negotiations in June and the invitation to NATO in July.