EU, NATO, UN Cheer Greece’s Ratification of ‘North Macedonia’ Name Deal

EU, NATO, UN Cheer Greece’s Ratification of ‘North Macedonia’ Name Deal

US and then UN envoy Matthew Nimetz tackled the Greece – Macedonia name dispute for 20 of the 27 years since its inception.

The Greek Parliament’s ratification of the Prespa (Prespes) Agreement, which has ended the decades-long name dispute between “North Macedonia” and Greece, has been met with great praise by the EU and NATO as well as by the UN’s long-standing representative on the issue.

Greece’s legislature ratified on Friday by a narrow margin the Macedonia name dispute deal, thus doing away with the Greek veto on the former Yugoslav republic’s accession to NATO and potential accession to the EU.

Greece used to veto Macedonia’s bids to join the EU and NATO since it insisted the name of the former Yugoslav republic threatens its national integrity as northern Greek administrative districts are also named “Macedonia”.

The Greece – Macedonia name dispute deal was negotiated in June 2018 by Tsipras and Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in the so called Prespa (Prespes) Agreement.

Under it, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia would adopt the name “Republic of North Macedonia”, while Greece would recognize its new name, and lift its vetoes to the former’s accession talks with NATO and the EU.

North Macedonia’s accession to NATO is much closer since it may have been invited to join the Alliance together with Albania and Croatia during the “Adriatic” enlargement back in 2009, had it not been for the Greek veto over the name dispute.

Greece’s Parliament is now supposed to ratify a protocol approving Macedonia’s admission into NATO.

As an EU candidate country, however, Macedonia, still has a long way to go before it comes close to joining the Union together with other states from the Western Balkans.

“[The name dispute deal ratification] has written a new page of our common EU future,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said

“They had imagination, they took the risk, they were ready to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good. Zoran, Alexis – well done! Mission impossible accomplished,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted, praising the Prime Ministers of Greece and the newly renamed North Macedonia.

“I welcome today’s ratification in the Greek parliament of the Prespa Agreement, an important contribution to the stability and prosperity of the whole region. I look forward to the future Republic of North Macedonia joining NATO,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted.

“[The name deal ratification is a] historic opportunity to advance stability, security, and prosperity throughout the region,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

He added that under its new name Macedonia was going to take its “rightful” place in NATO.

Pompeo, too, congratulated the leaders of Greece and North Macedonia for their “vision, courage, and persistence in their pursuit of a solution to the name dispute.”

American diplomat Matthew Nimetz, who spent 20 years as the UN’s mediator in the Macedonia – Greece name dispute, declared in a statement that the Prespa Agreement’s ratification ushered “in a new era for the consolidation of peace and security in the Balkans”, and opened “the door to a new relationship” between the countries after the 27-year dispute over the right to the name “Macedonia”

Nimetz was US President Clinton’s envoy in the Macedonia – Greece name dispute, and in 1999 became the UN Secretary General’s representative on the issue.

“Congratulations my friend, Alexis Tsipras. Together with our peoples we reached a historical victory. Long live the Prespa Agreement! For eternal peace and progress of the Balkans and in Europe!” North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev wrote on Twitter in English after the Greek Parliament approved the deal negotiated by him and Tsipras.

Zaev also congratulated US diplomat and UN envoy Nimetz for tackled the Macedonia – Greece name dispute for 20 years.

“Sincere congratulations to our dear friend Matthew Nimetz for the many years of dedication towards finding a peaceful and sustainable solution – The Prespa Agreement. Let it bring peace and prosperity to the whole region. Thank you dear Matt,” Zaev tweeted, together with a photo from the signing of the deal in June 2018.

(Banner image: Zoran Zaev on Twitter)

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