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Greek parliament ratifies North Macedonia name accord



ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece's parliament on Friday promises to change the name of Macedonia, ending a-old dispute and opening the way for the ex-Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and NATO.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who hammered out.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras votes during a vote between Greece and Macedonia Yugoslav republic's name in Athens, Greece, January 25, 2019. REUTERS / Costas Baltas

the deal with his Macedonian counterpart last year, secured the parliamentary majority needed to be approved.

"Today we are writing a new page for the Balkans. The hatred of nationalism and conflict is giving way to friendship, peace, and cooperation, "Tsipras wrote on his social media account.

Macedonia has already ratified the deal, brokered last year, and its Prime Minister promptly sent the Greek parliament's vote.

The Republic of North Macedonia is the second largest city in the country.

Greece's European Union allies welcomed the ratification.

"They had imagination, they took the risk, they were ready to sacrifice their own good interests," European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted. "Mission accomplished accomplished."

MOST GREEKS OPPOSED

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not be the case for Tsipras in an election year. A general election is due by October, and his party is trailing the New Democracy opposition by 12 points.

The Golden Dawn Party, asked to cast his vote, responded: "No to treason!"

Several MPs in favor of the accused reported attempts to intimidate them.

Many Greeks fear the agreement could lead to territorial claims against Greece and claim it to the appropriation of their country's ancient cultural heritage. Macedonia was the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

The protesters against the deal have turned violent this week and on Thursday evening. Smaller groups of people braved heavy rain on Friday to demonstrate outside the parliament.

New Democracy slammed the agreement.

"This deal should never have been signed or brought to ratification," party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament.

Additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; "It is a national defeat. Editing by Kevin Liffey

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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