After years of stalling, Greece OKs Macedonia in NATO

After years of stalling, Greece OKs Macedonia in NATO

Kerry Wise
February 11, 2019

Greek Parliament has ratified NATO accord with Macedonia for its admission into Alliance under a new name, the Republic of North Macedonia, Kathimerini reported.

The protocol was backed by 153 lawmakers in the 300-seat legislative body, with 140 lawmakers voting against it and one lawmaker abstaining from the vote.

Greece's objections to Skopje's use of the name "Macedonia" since the country's independence in 1991 complicated bids by the small Western Balkan nation to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, raises his hand as former defense minister Panos Kammenos leaves the podium during a parliament session in Athens, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

On Wednesday, Skopje signed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accession papers in Brussels that will lead to Macedonia becoming the alliance's 30th member once the bid has been ratified by all members. "I feel we have carried out our patriotic duty".

Tsipras on Friday said the deal had "upgraded" Greece's worldwide standing.

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NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg presided over Wednesday's ceremony a NATO's headquarters, where Macedonia was invited to join the pact.

Tsipras and his counterpart from Skopje, Zoran Zaev, achieved the Prespa Agreement, meant to bring to an end the decades-long dispute over the use of the name "Republic of Macedonia" by the former Yugoslav republic.

It also exposed old rivalries with Russian Federation, in a region where Moscow competes for influence with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

The next step is formally announcing the name change at the United Nations.

Greek opposition parties said the agreement made too many concessions to Macedonia.

Opponents of the historic agreement in Greece believe that the danger of irredentism is not over, as the agreement recognizes Macedonian language and identity for the citizens of the neighboring state, as Mitsotakis noted.