Macedonian parliament approves country’s name change

Baku, January 12, AZERTAC

Macedonian parliament on Friday approved constitutional amendment to change the country's name to Republic of North Macedonia, Anadolu Agency reported.

Eighty-one lawmakers voted in favor of the constitutional amendments.

The approval of two-thirds majority, or 80 of 120-member parliament, was required to pass the constitutional amendment.

The constitutional change will come into force when President Gyorge Ivanov ratifies it.

In June 2018, Greece and Macedonia inked Prespa Agreement, which requires Macedonia to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia and Greece to drop its objection to Macedonia joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and becoming a member of the European Union.

Separately, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras previously stated that they were planning to take this agreement to the Greek Parliament in January.

In October last year, Macedonia went to referendum where vote fails to reach turnout threshold.

Only 36.08 percent of 1.8 million voters participated in the referendum to rename Macedonia, while the law requires a turnout of at least 50 percent plus one vote for the referendum to be valid.

Two questions were put before voters in the referendum. "Are you in favor of NATO and EU membership, and accepting the name agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece?"

Greece, a member of both for decades, has long opposed Macedonia's official name, as it has a province called Macedonia in the north of the country.

Due to Athens' objections, the dispute was one of the main obstacles to Macedonia's ambitions to join NATO and the EU.

Negotiations between Macedonia and Greece have recently picked up pace as a new government in Skopje sought progress in its bid to join the two organizations.

The name issue has kept Macedonia from joining the EU and NATO since its independence in 1991.

Macedonia's international recognition was finalized in April 1993, when the country was unanimously adopted as a member of the UN General Assembly, but was admitted as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) due to pressure by Greece.

Despite the dispute between Athens and Skopje, many countries, including Turkey, recognize the country as Macedonia.

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