Greece approves protocol for Macedonia to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Austria Macedonia

Austria Macedonia

The 153-140 vote in favor of the former Yugoslav republic's NATO membership came after the country agreed past year to change its name to North Macedonia and following ratification of the deal by the countries' parliaments.

The Greek parliament on Friday ratified the NATO accession protocol for neighbouring Macedonia - renamed North Macedonia - with 153 votes in favour, 140 against and one abstention.

The ratification by the Greek MPs of the protocol signed by permanent representatives of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states earlier this week at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, opens the way for Greece's northern neighbour to start using its new name.

However, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev were able to push through their accord as part of efforts to normalize relations.

Last week, parliament ratified a historic deal to end the dispute about Macedonia's name, paving the way for the Balkan country to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU. He said that his government had "done its patriotic duty" and would be judged by people and history.

Tsipras on Friday said the deal had "upgraded" Greece's worldwide standing.

Negotiations between Greece and Macedonia were protracted and hard. In ancient times it was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a source of intense pride for Greeks.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union believe Macedonia's membership will enhance stability in the Balkans, while the alliance's expansion into the region has been opposed by Russian Federation.

Opponents of the historic agreement in Greece believe that the danger of irredentism is not over, as the agreement recognizes Macedonian language and identity for the citizens of the neighboring state, as Mitsotakis noted. He said that the process being used for the ratification is demeaning for parliament and "unprecedented".

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