Greece and Macedonia end 27-year feud over name

The agreement opens the door to the now Northern Macedonia’s eventual membership of the European Union and NATO

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (left) Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (right)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (left) Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (right)

Greece and Macedonia have reached an agreement over the latter’s name after a dispute that has lasted since the break up of the former Yugoslavia.

The two countries have agreed to the name Republic of Northern Macedonia, as opposed to the current UN-recognized name ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, pending the approval of the Greek and Macedonian parliaments. The deal would also require Macedonia revising its constitution.

Many Greeks felt their northern neighbor was trying to hijack Greece’s ancient cultural heritage. Macedonia is the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said the deal would open the way for his country’s entry into the European Union and NATO, both of which are currently blocked by Greece, on the basis of its use of the name Macedonia.

“There is no way back,” Zaev told a news conference after speaking with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras by telephone. He added that a meeting between the two could take place.

Invite Macedonia to accession negotiations - PES

In a statement, the Party of European Socialists (PES) welcomed the agreement reached by the two Prime Ministers.

“We are proud that this historic agreement was reached while two progressive governments are running both of the countries,” PES president Sergei Stanishev said.  “The negotiations and the successful proposal for solution became possible after the Government of Zoran Zaev came in to power in Skopje, ending the years of pointless denial of the conservatives in Skopje. This is great for both counties, it's a victory for democracy and stability in the Balkans region and a victory for the progressive political family in Europe.”

Stanishev said the agreement proved that it was only “progressive governments” that cared for the future of the European project.

“The PES calls on all governments in the EU to prove that those who make difficult decisions are rewarded and invite Skopje to start the accession negotiations with the European Union at the 28-29 June EU summit,” he said.

More in Europe