Macedonian politicians voted on Friday to change the country's name to "Republic of North Macedonia", settling a decades-long row with Greece and paving the way for NATO and EU membership.Parliamentary speaker Talad Xhaferi said 81 MPs had voted in favour of the name change in the 120-seat chamber, securing the required two-thirds majority.
The name change will only be effective once it is also agreed by the Greek parliament.Ahead of the vote, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had emphasised the historic importance of the decision."Without the accord with Greece, there will be neither NATO nor EU" membership, Zaev said."I changed my opinion on the name issue in the name of progress and at the cost of my political career," he added.
Athens has promised to lift its veto on Skopje's attempts to join NATO and the European Union on the condition Macedonia changes its name.Greece has blocked the path to those international organisations since Macedonia broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 because, it had said, the name Macedonia should apply solely to its own northern province.
For the Greeks, Macedonia evokes national pride as the cradle of Alexander the Great's ancient empire.Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday congratulated Zaev after the vote. "The prime minister congratulated Mr Zaev on the successful conclusion of the process to revise the constitution of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia," Tsipras' office said in a statement.