Greece, FYROM sign historic deal to end Macedonia name dispute

Greek PM survives no-confidence vote over Macedonia name

Greek protesters on Sunday clashed with riot police, who beat them back with tear gas after a historic Greek-Macedonian deal to end a 27-year name row.

Lawmakers voted 153-127 in the 300-member parliament against the motion brought by the conservative main opposition party over the deal to rename the former Yugoslav republic North Macedonia.

A Reuters witness saw protesters throwing stones at police and chanting, "Macedonia, Macedonia we will give our lives for Macedonia".

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras survived a no-confidence motion in parliament on Saturday, setting the stage for the signing of a historic accord with neighbouring Macedonia on a name dispute.

The deal was the result of six months of intense talks and comes after a more than two decades of dispute between Skopje and Athens.

Athens and Skopje are at odds over the use of the name of Macedonia since the neighboring state declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. This was Matthew Nimetz - the United Nations mediator who has spent a quarter of a century trying to find a solution acceptable to both countries.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, right, chats with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias during a parliamentary session, in Athens, on Saturday.

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras called the agreement "patriotic", and one that "respects the fundamental values of both countries", adding that both governments now need to work on its implementation.

Greece in return will suspend the objections that prevented Macedonia from joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

Specifically, by officially recognising a Macedonian language and nationality, it is nearly certain that the country will be called Macedonia by the broader world, instead of North Macedonia, opponents of the deal argue.

In 1995, the two countries signed an interim agreement after Macedonia agreed to modify its flag.

For the authorities in both countries the agreement is a triumph as it will put an end to the long dispute, while for Macedonia it will pave the way for Euro-Atlantic integration as Greece have been blocking its membership of the European Union and Nato due to the unresolved issue.

Thousands of Greeks were protesting against the agreement outside parliament, calling for Tsipras to resign.

The deal will finally have to be ratified by the Greek parliament, a process which may also not be straightforward.

- The agreement recognises the country's language as Macedonian, part of the Southern Slavic language group, and states it is not related to ancient Hellenic civilization, or the history, culture or heritage of Greece's Macedonian region.

"Today is my birthday", said Nimetz, who turned 79 on Sunday. Zaev has said he will put the deal to a referendum in the fall.

"Ultimately they are for sale", the 2016 Olympics 25-metre pistol gold victor said in an Instagram posting with the hashtag "betrayal", apparently referring to the name and identity of Macedonia. "It means a lot, for us it is a huge thing", says Bosko Dimovski, a 60-year-old from Dolno Dupeni, the first village on the Macedonian side of the border.

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