Macedonia's NATO Journey Not Over Yet, Experts Warn

Austria Macedonia

Tsipras and his counterpart from Skopje, Zoran Zaev, achieved the Prespa Agreement, meant to bring to an end the decades-long dispute over the use of the name "Republic of Macedonia" by the former Yugoslav republic.

The Greek vote means the former Yugoslav republic will now formally change its name to North Macedonia, settling a dispute of the country's name which Greece's saw as a potential threat to its own northern region of Macedonia.

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, right, speaks as Greek Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs George Katrougalos, applauds during a parliament session in Athens, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

The ratification was part of a deal signed in June to change Macedonia's name to the Republic of North Macedonia, and lift Greek objections to its European Union and NATO membership bids.

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The ratification by the Greek MPs of the protocol signed by permanent representatives of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states earlier this week at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, opens the way for Greece's northern neighbour to start using its new name. He said that his government had "done its patriotic duty" and would be judged by people and history.

Negotiations between Greece and Macedonia were protracted and hard.

It also exposed old rivalries with Russian Federation, in a region where Moscow competes for influence with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU. Macedonia will then formally implement the name change. This referred to the resignation of a junior partner from the governing coalition in January over the accord, which left the governing Syriza party short of an absolute majority in parliament.

The protocol was backed by 153 lawmakers in the 300-seat legislative body, with 140 lawmakers voting against it and one lawmaker abstaining from the vote. He said that the process being used for the ratification is demeaning for parliament and "unprecedented".

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