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Romania welcomes the agreement on Republic of Macedonia's new name

17 June 2018

Greece argued that the name "Macedonia" implied territorial claims on its province of the same name, which is the birthplace of the ancient warrior king Alexander the Great, and usurped its ancient Greek heritage and history.

"We will not divide the Greeks in order to unite the (Macedonians)".

Skopje hopes to secure a date to begin accession talks at an European Union summit in late June, and an invitation to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in mid-July.

The expected signing of the long awaited "name" deal between Macedonia and Greece will be just the first in a series of carefully planned steps on the potentially bumpy road towards its implementation.

Protestors shout slogans against the change of the country's constitutional name in front of the Parliament building in Skopje, Macedonia June 13, 2018.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has also hailed the deal, which was announced on Tuesday, calling it a "historic solution".

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Ivanov said Wednesday that he would not sign the agreement because it gave too many concessions to Greece.

The landmark agreement Athens struck with Skopje to change the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to Northern Macedonia has come under heavy criticism from the opposition to Greece's SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government.

Zaev and Tsipras agreed earlier this week that the former Yugoslav republic should be renamed North Macedonia, ending a disagreement that had prevented it from joining worldwide institutions such as NATO and poisoned bilateral relations since the early 1990s.

"What goes around, comes around", Tsipras said.

But the deal still requires ratification by the two national parliaments and a referendum in Macedonia, and not everyone is inclined to vote "yes".

Sebastian Kurz, whose country takes over the EU's rotating presidency in July, said Wednesday that Austria "sees a clear European perspective for the entire Western Balkans and, of course, also for Macedonia". The agreement is expected to be signed this weekend.

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"This agreement sets an example for others on how to consolidate peace and stability across the region".

Later, around 2,000 people opposing the agreement demonstrated in central Skopje, promising to continue demonstrating daily.

The deal was welcomed by European Union officials.

Greece's opposition New Democracy party will file a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in parliament over a deal to solve a decades-old name dispute with Macedonia, its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday. A breakthrough was reached after a change of government in Macedonia, with Zaev taking over past year following a decade of rule by conservative Nikola Gruevski.

"For my whole life I've been called Marica, it would be the same as if someone would force me now to change my name".

The name dispute has poisoned the two countries' relations since Macedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

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Romania welcomes the agreement on Republic of Macedonia's new name