ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece and Macedonia will sign an accord on Sunday to change the name of the former Yugoslav republic to the “Republic of North Macedonia”, the Greek government said on Friday, though there is mounting opposition in both countries to the plan.
Athens has long objected to its northern neighbor’s use of the name ‘Macedonia’, saying it implies territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name and amounts to the appropriation of Greece’s ancient cultural heritage.
Here are the key points in the agreement, which comes after nearly three decades of negotiations:
- The country’s official name will be “Republic of North Macedonia”, or “North Macedonia” for short.
- The agreement recognizes the country’s language as Macedonian, part of the Southern Slavic language group, and states it is not related to ancient Hellenic civilization, or the history, culture or heritage of Greece’s Macedonian region.
- Once the agreement is signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries, Macedonia will submit the accord to its parliament for ratification. It has the option of calling a referendum.
The country should have fully completed all necessary constitutional amendments by the end of 2018. Once this is completed, Greece will ‘promptly’ ratify the agreement.
- Macedonia will seek NATO and EU membership under the name Republic of North Macedonia.
When the Macedonian parliament has ratified the deal, Greece will notify both the EU and NATO that it supports opening accession negotiations.
Greek support for NATO membership is contingent on the outcome of any referendum and the completion of constitutional reforms in North Macedonia.
- Both countries confirm their common existing frontier as their ‘enduring and inviolable international border’.
- Within a month of signing the deal, both countries will establish a committee of experts on historic, educational and archaeological matters to consider interpretation of historical events. May also revise school textbooks.
If either side believes the other is using symbols of the other, ‘corrective action’ will be taken to respect patrimony.
Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Gareth Jones