Greece approves Macedonia NATO bid

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks during a parliament session in Athens Friday Feb. 8 2019. Greek lawmakers are set Friday to approve Macedonia’s NATO accession ending a process to normalize relations between the two neighbors and anch

Greece had previously used its veto rights to block Skopje's attempts to join the alliance because of a long-running dispute between the neighbouring countries.

Greek parliament has ratified the accord between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Macedonia for the former Yugoslav republic to become a member of the alliance.

Staring down strong domestic opposition from Greeks anxious the Balkan neighbor was appropriating Greek heritage, the government of leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pushed the name change through parliament on January 25.

On Wednesday, Skopje signed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accession papers in Brussels that will lead to Macedonia becoming the alliance's 30th member once the bid has been ratified by all members. "I feel we have carried out our patriotic duty", Tsipras said.

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.

Greek opposition New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks during a parliament session in Athens Friday Feb. 8 2019. Greek lawmakers are set Friday to approve Macedonia’s NATO accession ending a process to normalize relations between the
Greece approves Macedonia NATO bid

Greece's ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accord will see Macedonia now call itself by its new name.

Negotiations between Greece and Macedonia were protracted and hard.

Tsipras also rejected calls by the leader of New Democracy to hold early elections, telling Kyriakos Mitsotakis that his party's expectations will be refuted.

"This is the final act of a nationally damaging deed", he said.

The NATO ratification process typically takes about a year, and the United States has said it expects North Macedonia to formally join the alliance in 2020.

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