NEWS

Greece, FYROM to sign name change accord Sunday

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are set to sign a historic accord to modify the latter’s name after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament Saturday.

The accord is to be signed in the Prespes region, a lake district which borders Greece, FYROM and Albania, by the two countries’ foreign ministers Sunday.

Tsipras and his FYROM counterpart Zoran Zaev will both attend the ceremony, along with UN mediator Matthew Nimetz and other European officials – including the European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

Following the ceremony, members of the two delegations will hold a working lunch in the two of Otesevo, in FYROM.

Security at the event is expected to be ultra-tight. A protest against the deal will be held in the nearby village of Pisoderi.

On Saturday, after more than two days of vehement debate in Parliament, Greece’s SYRIZA-led government survived a no-confidence vote brought against it by the main opposition New Democracy party, but with one less MP.

The motion garnered 127 votes with 153 against. The junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) backed the government despite its opposition to the name deal with FYROM that Tsipras announced last week, bar one MP, Dimitris Kammenos, who backed the motion. He was subsequently expelled from the party, reducing the government’s majority to 153.

Before the vote, protesters gathered for the second day in a row outside the House to oppose the deal. Riot police fired tear gas at one point to disperse demonstrators.

Many in Greece see the name issue as a bid by Skopje to hijack Greece’s ancient cultural heritage. Once the deal is ratified, Athens has said it will support the opening of negotiations for the former Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and NATO.

Almost seven in 10 respondents in a poll published on Saturday are opposed to the name “North Macedonia.”
 

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