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The Macedonian Parliament agrees to change the name of the country



Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev speaks during a vote with Members of Parliament on the adoption of constitutional amendments so that the Balkan country can change its name in the Republic of North Macedonia, in Skopje, Macedonia, 1

1 January 2019. REUTERS / Tomislav Georgiev 19659002] SKOPJE (Reuters) – The Macedonian parliament passed a constitutional amendment on Friday to rename the country in northern Macedonia, as agreed with Greece, to end a 27-year dispute.

Sixty-one MPs in the 120-seat parliament voted in favor. Representatives of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, who opposed the agreement with Greece, boycotted the vote.

The countries made the deal with the new name in June, but Macedonia will only use it after the Athens Parliament has ratified the agreement.

Greece blocked its neighbors' efforts to join the EU and NATO because of the use of "Macedonia", which allegedly contained territorial claims to a Greek province of the same name.

At the beginning of the parliamentary session, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told MEPs that the name change would open "the doors to the future, the European future of Macedonia" and join the North Atlantic Alliance.

Several hundred people have protested in the last three days against the agreement in Parliament.

Reporting by Kole Casule; Letter from Ivana Sekularac; Edited by John Stonestreet

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