Macedonia, which was created when Yugoslavia broke up, was invited to join the alliance in 2008, but its membership was vetoed by Greece, which already has its own province named Macedonia.
Athens claimed that the name made it sound like Macedonia the country has its eyes set on annexing Macedonia the province — or at the least was appropriating Greece's historical heritage.
Macedonia's parliament has approved a constitutional amendment to change the country's name to the Republic of North Macedonia, reports BBC News.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev narrowly secured the two-thirds majority needed in the historic vote amid a boycott by opposition nationalists.
Protesters outside parliament denounced what they called an act of treason.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was struggling Thursday to get the required number of lawmakers to finalize constitutional changes that will rename the country "Republic of North Macedonia" and allow its NATO accession under a deal with neighboring Greece.
Macedonian lawmakers were set to hold a crucial debate on changing the country's name to settle a decades-long dispute with Greece, reported Radio Free Europe.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has backed changing the country's name to Republic of North Macedonia, and is pushing for approval in the debate scheduled for January 9.