ATHENS, Greece - Greece and Macedonia reached an historic agreement Tuesday to end a bitter 27-year name dispute that had kept the smaller and younger country out of international institutions such as NATO/
Greece’s Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev said the former Yugoslav republic’s new name for both domestic and international purposes would be Republic of Northern Macedonia.
NATO and European Union officials welcomed the breakthrough, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said would help consolidate regional peace and stability.
Greece had long demanded that its northern neighbor change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of the region in northern Greece named Macedonia.
The current prime ministers’ attempts to end the dispute have faced dissent in both countries, leading to large protests by opponents of a compromise.
In a televised address, Tsipras said the 140 countries which had recognized the Balkan state simply as Macedonia would now recognize it as Republic of Northern Macedonia.
“This achieves a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbors,” he said. Speaking at a news conference in the Macedonian capital, Skopje, Zaev described the deal as a “historic agreement of the century.”