Greece’s Parliament backs Nato admission for Macedonia

Leroy Wright
February 11, 2019

Greece and Macedonia - independent since 1991 - struck the historic agreement to change the name past year, despite protests from opposition parties, and ratified it in parliament.

Greek Parliament has ratified NATO accord with Macedonia for its admission into Alliance under a new name, the Republic of North Macedonia, Kathimerini reported.

The measure was accepted by a 153-140 vote.

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, raises his hand as former defense minister Panos Kammenos leaves the podium during a parliament session in Athens, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

Greece and the former Yugoslav province - independent since 1991 - struck the historic agreement last summer.

"I'd like to welcome North Macedonia, a country friendly to Greece, a country that must be an ally in efforts to establish security, stability and peace in the region".

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Western countries strongly backed the deal between Greece and Macedonia, after the country's bid to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had been shelved for a decade and amid European concerns over Russia's vocal opposition to the alliance's expansion further into the Balkans. Despite strong misgivings from opposition parties and public opinion, both ratified it in parliament.

However, Greece raised objections to the official usage of Macedonia's name, arguing that it implies territorial aspirations against a northern Greek region with the same name.

On Wednesday, Skopje signed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accession papers in Brussels that will lead to Macedonia becoming the alliance's 30th member once the bid has been ratified by all members. Provided lawmakers vote for the motion, Greece's foreign ministry will promptly notify the FYROM government of the result.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union believe Macedonia's membership will enhance stability in the Balkans, while the alliance's expansion into the region has been opposed by Russian Federation.

A government spokesman told the AP this would happen "in coming days".

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