Macedonia Awaits Greek Vote to Activate Name Change

The Greek parliament is expected to be the first of any NATO member state to ratify Macedonia's NATO accession protocol on Friday, at a plenary session that is expected to end in a positive vote.

The accession protocol for soon-to-be North Macedonia is expected to be backed by much the same number of MPs that approved the historic "name" deal with Macedonia in January.

On January 25, 153 of the 300 MPs in the Greek parliament endorsed the agreement, which Alexis Tsipras's government supported but which opposition parties had condemned.

On Thursday, the main opposition centre-right New Democracy party said it would not back Macedonia's NATO accession, just as it had also not supported the name agreement.

"We will vote against the protocol on the accession of Skopje in NATO. We won't give up on our right to veto Skopje's accession to the EU," New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

He accused the main ruling leftist SYRIZA party of having "borrowed" MPs from other smaller parties and got them to back the vote in an unprincipled way, by promising them government posts.

Under the terms of the historic "name" agreement, reached last summer, Macedonia will officially start use of its newly agreed name, Republic of North Macedonia, once Greece approves its NATO accession.

The government in Skopje is already preparing for this change.

Government spokesperson Mile Bosnjakovski on Tuesday told BIRN that once Greece approves the accession protocol, it will be a "matter of days" before the two governments then inform the UN Secretary General that their differences have been overcome, and that their agreement has entered into force.

The Macedonian government this week said it will start...

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