In a statement, the Macedonian government said: Tonight we have written a new chapter in our nations founding history. It makes sense for our two greatest national interests, NATO and the European Union.
NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg and Commissioner Hahn in charge of the European Commission for Enlargement welcomed this.
NATO strongly supports the full implementation of the agreement, which is an important contribution to regional stability and prosperity, Stoltenberg wrote on his Twitter account.
I hope that this historic decision will create a positive momentum for reconciliation throughout the Western Balkans, Hahn said.
The Root of the Dispute
According to the BBC, Macedonia declared its independence when Yugoslavia disintegrated in 1991, and its neighbor Greece immediately jumped out against its name because there was also a province in northern Greece called Macedonia.
This area is where Alexander was born. Greece believes that Macedonia covets the territory of its province of the same name and the cultural heritage of Alexander.
Greece, therefore, asked the United Nations to call the newly born country the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It also blocked Macedonias attempts to join NATO in 2008 and its ambition to join the European Union.
As Greece and Macedonia do not give in to each other, they have set up a Welcome to Macedonia sign on the border. Therefore, border travelers travel from Macedonia to Macedonia in any direction.
In the early 1990s, in order to resolve this most exotic international dispute, former US President Clintons special envoy Nimez began to circle between the two countries. In 1999, he continued to promote this work after becoming the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
He recalled that when he first took over the job, he thought the dispute would get out of hand, because in the second year after the founding of Macedonia, a million Greeks took to the streets to protest, which led directly to the ouster of the countrys prime minister.
But he understands it very well. For the past three generations, this threat has been real for this country, and it feels likewere always surrounded. In the Balkans, every country has a fragmented history, or once fought against its neighbours.
However, in 2017, the change in the attitude of the Macedonian government finally opened negotiations between the two countries. Last June, the two countries reached an agreement to change the name of Macedonia to the Republic of Northern Macedonia to end more than 20 years of dispute.
According to the new agreement, the language of the country will be called Macedonian, and the people will be called citizens of the Republic of Northern Macedonia. The new name will be used in international and bilateral relations.
Between Greece and Russia
For a long time, Macedonia has been difficult to become a member of NATO and the European Union because of its national name, but in fact, it has been wrapped up in a more complex international environment.
Last June, after Macedonia and Greece reached an agreement, Russia and Greece fell into tension. Greece expelled two Russian diplomats who tried to oppose the agreement, while the Russian Foreign Minister cancelled his visit to Greece.
According to the New York Times, Russia had previously unabashedly opposed Macedonias accession to NATO in UN-led negotiations. Macedonia has long been a battlefield in the geopolitical competition between Western countries and Russia.
Greece and Russia are both Orthodox countries. They are closely linked in traditional culture. The current left-wing government of Greece even supports the establishment of closer relations between Russia and the West and defends them in international disputes.
But at the same time, Greece supports NATOs expansion, and thus rivals Russia. However, Russia is not alone. The rally against the agreement has been protesting since June last year.
According to Reuters, 81 members of the 120-seat parliament voted in favour of the vote, while some opposition parties boycotted the vote.
Over the past three days, hundreds of people have protested in front of Parliament to reach an agreement with Greece. Macedonian opposition parties and nationalists believe that changing the countrys name and symbols is too expensive and they cannot afford to join NATO. Before that, Macedonia had held a referendum on amending its name. According to the Associated Press, according to Prime Minister Zaev of Macedonia, the referendum will be asked: Are you in favor of joining the EU and NATO and accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Greek Republic? Zaev said the referendum was a consultation and added that the peoples statement will be the final decision of all political parties. Source: Foreign Affairs Responsible Editor: Ji Guojie_NBJ11143
Over the past three days, hundreds of people have protested in front of Parliament to reach an agreement with Greece. Macedonian opposition parties and nationalists believe that changing the countrys name and symbols is too expensive and they cannot afford to join NATO.
Before that, Macedonia had held a referendum on amending its name. According to the Associated Press, according to Prime Minister Zaev of Macedonia, the referendum will be asked: Are you in favour of joining the EU and NATO and accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Greek Republic?
Zaev called the referendum a consultation and added that what the people say will be the final decision of all political parties.