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MPs agree historic name change for Macedonia

MPs agree historic name change for Macedonia

Under the agreement, after Skopje cements the name change with constitutional amendments, Tsipras is to push the ratification of the agreement through the Greek parliament.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Saturday called on Greece to end their nations' decades-long dispute by ratifying the deal to rename his country "The Republic of North Macedonia".

In the latter capacity, he brokered a so-called interim deal whereby Greece dropped its embargo on Macedonia in exchange for the latter's modifying its flag, which included a symbol found in the grave of Philip II, ruler of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia and father of Alexander the Great.

All 81 Macedonian lawmakers present for the parliamentary vote backed the constitutional amendments. Representatives of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, who opposed the agreement with Greece, boycotted the vote.

The agreement on changing the name comes after a 27-year dispute, with Greece complaining that the name Macedonia implies claims on Greece's own territory and cultural heritage.

However, shortly after the vote on Friday Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras congratulated Mr Zaev after deputies in Skopje voted to change the country's name to the Republic of North Macedonia, his office said.

Macedonian approval of the name change does not end the issue though. Mickoski told reporters the constitutional changes were approved against the desires of the Macedonian people and described the vote as "an act of treason".

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Only 36.08 percent of 1.8 million voters participated in the referendum to rename Macedonia, while the law requires a turnout of at least 50 percent plus one vote for the referendum to be valid.

Albania has congratulated Macedonia's parliament vote on name change as "a clear demonstration of statesmanship unlocking North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union path". VMRO says the deal concedes too much to Greece.

Macedonia approved the deal on Friday, while Greece's parliament is expected to vote on it before March.

The remaining 39 opposition lawmakers in the 120-seat house stayed away in protest.

Tsipras has said he wants to bring the deal to Greece's parliament in coming weeks.

Greece is bound by terms of the deal to stop blocking Macedonia from NATOand other global groups and to allow it to start European Union accession talks as part of the deal.