Greek parliament approves Macedonia's NATO accession

History will judge us. I feel we have carried out our patriotic duty, Tsipras said.

The Greek parliament on Friday ratified the NATO accession protocol for neighbouring Macedonia - renamed North Macedonia - with 153 votes in favour, 140 against and one abstention. The ratification ended a process to normalise relations between the two neighbours and anchor Macedonia firmly within the western sphere of influence.

"Today's vote closes the most important round of obligations involving Greece," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told parliament ahead of the vote. "I'd like to welcome North Macedonia, a country friendly to Greece, a country that must be an ally in efforts to establish security, stability and peace in the region," he said. "History will judge us. I feel we have carried out our patriotic duty."

NATO members signed the accession protocol with Macedonia on Wednesday, days after the Greek parliament endorsed an agreement between Athens and Skopje that changed the Balkan state's name. Greece and Macedonia - independent since 1991 - struck the landmark agreement to change the name last year, despite protests from opposition parties, and ratified it in parliament. The Greek approval of Macedonia's NATO accession bid is the final step in the deal.

The two countries remained deadlocked over Macedonia's name for the duration of the younger country's existence. But the election of left-led governments in both countries made them less vulnerable to nationalist pressures. The main catalyst for the name change was Macedonia's wish to join NATO, and, eventually, the European Union, and the western countries' desire to diminish Russian influence in the region. Greece is a member of both the blocs and has veto power over other countries joining. Tsipras had faced large demonstrations against the deal, while opinion polls showing more than two-thirds of Greeks opposed to it.

Macedonia’s parliament ratified the deal by passing an amendment to the constitution on Friday. The two countries struck the deal on the new name in June last year, but Macedonia will start using it only after the parliament in Athens also approves the change.

Similar articles

  • Trump to meet May, Macron on Europe visit in June

    Trump to meet May, Macron on Europe visit in June

    The US President Donald Trump will make his first state visit to the UK on 3-5 June, both the White House and the Buckingham Palace announced on Tuesday. According to their statements, the visit will include an audience with the Queen and a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May in London, as well as and attendence at an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth.

  • Austria to reduce anonymity online

    Austria to reduce anonymity online

    A new draft law is set to require real names and addresses for internet comments

    Austria's government has introduced a draft law that would require internet users to provide their real name and address to larger sites before commenting, in a move that is part of global efforts to reduce anonymity online and curb hate speech. As Engadget states, the users would still be able to use a nickname in public, but authorities would now have an easy way to find internet trolls that they believe are harassing users or otherwise violating the law.

  • Notre Dame fire pledges inflame yellow vest protesters

    Notre Dame fire pledges inflame yellow vest protesters

    Yellow Vest protestors in Paris battled police during violent clashes Saturday - newly enraged at the more than billion dollars that have been pledged to rebuild fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral, overshadowing their anti-wealth cause. Black-hooded demonstrators set fire to trash cans, scooters and a car and pelted police with rocks to draw attention anew to their 23rd weekend of protest.