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Merkel backs Macedonia name change deal with Greece

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Merkel backs Macedonia name change deal with Greece

Merkel backs Macedonia name change deal with Greece
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Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has been in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, to lend her support to a deal with Greece over the country's name.

Macedonians will hold a referendum this month on whether to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

Merkel says it would pave the way for membership of the European Union and NATO.

''You are invited to be a member of NATO and you have the prospect of acceptance into the European Union,'' Merkel said. ''Much work is still needed but the prerequisite is of course a successful referendum on September 30.''

Greece has refused to accept the Balkan country's name, saying it implies territorial claims on its province of Macedonia.

Thousands of demonstrators turned out in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki to protest against the controversial deal.

Riot police fired teargas near a trade fair where the Prime Minister was speaking.