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Deputies agree historic name change for Macedonia

Parliamentary speaker Talad Xhaferi said 81 MPs had voted in favour of the name change in the 120-seat chamber, securing the required two-thirds majority.

Demonstrators wave flags in front of the parliament building in Skopje on 23 June 2018 during a protest against the new name of the country, the Republic of North Macedonia. Picture: AFP

SKOPJE - Macedonian deputies voted Friday to change the country's name to "the Republic of North Macedonia", settling a decades-long row with Greece and paving the way to NATO and EU membership.

Parliamentary speaker Talad Xhaferi said 81 MPs had voted in favour of the name change in the 120-seat chamber, securing the required two-thirds majority.

However, the ball is now in Athens' court as the name change will be effective only once it is cleared by the Greek parliament.

Athens has promised to lift its veto on Skopje's attempts to join NATO and the European Union, once Macedonia changed its name.

Greece has blocked that path since Macedonia broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 because, it says, the name Macedonia should apply solely to its own northern province.

For the Greeks, Macedonia evokes national pride as the cradle of Alexander the Great's ancient empire, a heritage that they guard jealously.

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