Greek MPs Approve Historic Macedonia 'Name' Agreement
Greece's parliament on Friday backed ratification of the highly controversial agreement that is designed to end the decades-long dispute over Macedonia's name.
In the vote that ended at 14.30 pm local time, 153 MPs from the ruling parties and from some opposition parties in the 300-seat parliament endorsed the agreement, which Macedonia has already adopted.
A total of 146 MPs voted against it.
Greek ratification marks the final act of the "Prespa" agreement's implementation, after Macedonia on January 11 altered its constitution, allowing the country's name to be changed from Republic of Macedonia to Republic of North Macedonia.
In exchange for changing its name, to which Greece objected, Greece has agreed to lift its blockade on Macedonia's NATO and EU accession bids.
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev expressed his delight. "Congratulations my friend [Alexis] Tsipras. Together with our peoples we reached a historical victory. Long live the Prespa Agreement! For eternal peace and progress of the Balkans and in Europe!" Zaev wrote on Twitter.
Macedonia's Foreign Minister, Nikola Dimitrov, said hope had triumphed over fear.
"Courage and hope have defeated fear. The future is there. As Nikos [Kotzias, former Greek foreign minister] often says, history should be a teacher, not a prison. I am so proud of what we did. Long live our friendship and the friendship between our nations! Long live visionary patriotism!" Dimitrov wrote on Twitter.
EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn called the agreement "a historic breakthrough for the two countries, the region and Europe as a whole. I applaud the leaders on both sides for their courage and vision!"
"They had imagination, they took the risk, they were ready...