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Macedonia PM hails 'historic' deal with Greece to resolve name row

AFP  |  Athens 

hailed a "historic solution" today after and resolved a longstanding row by agreeing to rename his country the Republic of North

The 27-year dispute has led to frequent disagreement and protests, but the two countries agreed on the new title of the former Yugoslav republic after months of intensive diplomacy.

"There is an agreement. We have a after two and a half decades. Our agreement includes Republic of North for overall use," Zaev told reporters in the capital

has long objected to its northern neighbour being called Macedonia because it has its own northern province of the same name.

Greek also declared a deal had been struck.

"We have reached an accord, a good accord that covers all the conditions set by Greece," Tsipras said in televised comments after briefing Greece's on the accord.

Macedonia hopes that resolving the name dispute will help clear the way for it to join the and NATO.

tweeted his support for the agreement: "Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible." "I am keeping my fingers crossed," he said.

The deal still needs to be approved by the Macedonian and Greek parliaments.

Greek officials earlier said the list of potential names included "New Macedonia" and "Upper Macedonia", but after months of discussions "North Macedonia" was chosen. Greek had prepared a 20-page draft agreement after repeated talks with his Macedonian counterpart

Kotzias told Kontra TV on Monday that the agreement would specify that Macedonia's language is of Slavic origin.

"It's clear that (Macedonia) bears no relation to the ancient (Macedonian) culture... and that their language belongs to the Slavic language," he said.

Both governments have faced criticism ahead of the compromise and today Macedonia's signalled his concern.

"There is a need for a wider national consensus to find a solution that won't hurt the dignity of the Macedonian people and citizens," said Ivanov.

He is close to a nationalist party which was defeated by Zaev in elections last year.

This year there have been several protests against an agreement in Skopje, as well as in and Greece's second city of in the north.

Greek Panos Kammenos, a hardline junior coalition in Tsipras's government, earlier dismissed talk of a deal, saying there was "no chance" Zaev could get it approved.

will be called to ratify the agreement after Macedonian lawmakers approve it, provided that fulfils preliminary EU and NATO requirements to begin membership talks, Kotzias said.

Skopje hopes to secure a date to begin accession talks at an EU summit in late June, and an invitation to join NATO in mid-July.

"This historic agreement is testament to many years of patient diplomacy, and to the willingness of these two leaders to solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long," NATO said in a statement.

"This will set Skopje on its path to NATO membership. And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans," he added.

The EU's said the deal "contributes to the transformation of the entire region of southeast Europe".

has long objected to its neighbour's constitutional name -- the -- because it fears it could imply territorial ambitions. Ancient Macedonia was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a point of pride to Greeks today.

But under the Romans, the province of Macedonia was expanded to include territory in modern-day Greece, Macedonia, and

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, June 13 2018. 01:10 IST