Athens and Skopje Agree on ‘Republic of North Macedonia’

Greece’s Prime Minister announced on Tuesday that he had reached a “good agreement” with his Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) counterpart Zoran Zaev to solve the naming dispute between the two countries.

In a televised address on Greek TV, Tsipras revealed that the name of the neighboring country will be North Macedonia (Severna Makedonija).

“I am deeply convinced that this agreement will be a diplomatic victory and also a large historic opportunity,” he claimed.

The 140 countries which had recognized the Balkan state simply as Macedonia would now recognize it as Republic of North Macedonia, Tsipras said.

“This achieves a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbors and puts an end to the irredentism which their current constitutional name implies.”

He added that Macedonia “cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia.”

He said the agreement ensures Skopje will amend its constitution to delete any irredentist elements.

The agreement will be signed by the foreign ministers of both countries and will then head to FYROM’s parliament for approval, said the Greek premier.

Tsipras said that the agreement will be ratified by the Greek parliament, but only after all other preconditions by Skopje are met.

If FYROM does not make the necessary changes to its constitution, as foreseen in the deal, then this will cancel the invitation to join NATO and start accession talks with the European Union, Tsipras added.

President of the European Council, Donald Tusk immediately congratulated the two leaders for reaching an agreement.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the deal.

Leader of the opposition, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has requested a meeting with Pavlopoulos to convey New Democracy’s opposition to a deal with FYROM.

Mitsotakis has been extremely critical of the government’s handling of the FYROM naming talks. He has accused Tsipras and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias are conducting secret diplomacy, without briefing opposition parties.

Earlier on Tuesday, leader of the Independent Greeks — the government’s junior government partner — Panos Kammenos reiterated his opposition to a composite name for FYROM that would include the word ‘Macedonia’.

He underlined however, that his party will continue to support the Tsipras government speculating that the agreement will rejected in a referendum scheduled to take place in FYROM in the autumn.