Greece backs Macedonia's NATO bid, completing name deal

Greece backs Macedonia's NATO bid, completing name deal

Greece backs Macedonia's NATO bid, completing name deal

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.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members signed an accord with Macedonia on Wednesday, allowing the republic to become the 30th member of the USA -led alliance, after a deal with Greece ended a 27-year-old dispute over its 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.

Greek Parliament ratified the NATO accord with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) for its admission into the alliance under its new name, Republic of North Macedonia.

Greece and the former Yugoslav province - independent since 1991 - struck the historic agreement last summer.

"Clearly it is in Greece's interest to promote a European course for all its neighbors, not just for North Macedonia - and not [back] the influence of third forces in the neighborhood, with different aspirations and pursuits", Tsipras said.

The dispute had frustrated Macedonian attempts to join the European Union and NATO: Greece is a member of both and has veto power over other countries joining.

The agreement also almost toppled his government last month after triggering the breakup of his coalition with the nationalist Independent Greeks party.

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.

"I am proud of the stance of the lawmakers who voted the deal".

Until then, the Republic of North Macedonia - as it will soon be - will not have the right to vote at alliance meetings.

A government spokesman told the AP this would happen "in coming days".

Konstantin Testorides contributed from Skopje, Macedonia.

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