MPs in Skopje propped up name change

Zoran Zaev (L) and Alexis Tsipras (R).

On Friday evening the national parliament in Skopje  propped up amendments in the country’s constitution that allows the state to change its name to Northern Macedonia. The move was backed by 80 out of 120 members of the parliament at a sitting that was delayed with more than ten hours. The backing became possible after several MPs from the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE voted in favour.

Greece and the former Yugoslav republic agreed on the name change in the Prespa accord in June. It could open the country's path to NATO and the European Union, blocked for a long time by Greece.
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev expressed thanks to the members of the parliament that supported the amendments, saying that “Today is a historic day and Macedonia can now become part of the European families.”

Welcoming the vote, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras underlined that the approval by Macedonia’s parliament of a proposal to change the country’s name paves the way for an historic deal between the two countries.

It is one big step closer to taking your place that belongs to our transatlantic community, European Council President Donald Tusk wrote in Twitter.

In a tweet EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, pointed out: “A great day for democracy in Skopje. Congratulate all those who decided to walk on along the EU path. I expect that the free choice of all MPs is fully respected, especially of those who crossed the aisle tonight. We need statesmanship, not party-games."

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