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Macedonia's parliament approves country's name change

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Macedonia's parliament approves country's name change

Macedonia's parliament approves country's name change
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Reuters
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Macedonia's parliament has approved a proposal to change the country's name to North Macedonia.

On Friday, 80 deputies in the 120-seat parliament voted in favour of renaming the country, which just reached the two-thirds majority needed to enact constitutional changes.

Reuters

The move could make the Balkan country a member of NATO and the European Union, ending a 27-year dispute with Greece.

Both countries agreed to a name change in June. Greece has said its neighbor’s current name implies claims on its own adjoining province of Macedonia, and on ancient Greek heritage.

Greece has said it would block Macedonia's EU and NATO aspirations unless it makes the change.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras welcomed the parliament move on Saturday and said: “Today is a symbolic and historic day for our foreign policy after yesterday’s decision at the Skopje’s parliament which opens the way for the implementation of an historic accord.”

However, Macedonia could see a dispute on its own territory, as the referendum on the name change failed to pass the turnout threshold of 50%.

Friday's parliament decision was just the first in a long round of votes, which should be resolved by January at the latest.