The Parliament of Macedonia ratified on Wednesday an agreement reached with Greece on changing the name of the country into the Republic of North Macedonia.
All MPs present in the session voted for the ratification while the largest nationalist VMRO-DPMNE boycotted the meeting.
“We have a clear agreement and forever clear symbols of our Macedonian identity and our language,” Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told the parliamentarians.
He added that the agreement on solving the 27-year-long dispute between Skopje and Athens was a dignified solution for both sides and that Macedonia did not give anything as a gift.
Zaev said that the whole international community supported the deal and that it opened the door to the Macedonian European future.
He added that the final word on the issue would have Macedonians on a referendum scheduled for either September or October.
Macedonia President Gjorgo Ivanov, who refused to sign the deal describing it as a “catastrophe,” said he would never put his name under the agreement, that he could intermediately be ousted.
An earlier report mentioned that Ivanov might be subject to impeachment.
In both Skopje and Athens, nationalist demonstrators flooded the cities’ streets in recent days, but serious protests seemed to have died out.
European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn welcomed the ratification of the Skoplje-Athens agreement on Wednesday.
“I welcome the ratification by the Macedonian parliament of the name deal between Skoplje and Athens. It is the first step of many towards full implementation. I trust all political leaders to show leadership and courage for the next steps,” Hahn wrote on his Twitter account. He added that the agreement shows the transformative power of the EU perspective and the great potential of cooperation and good neighbourly relations. “For Macedonia it marks the beginning of a journey, leading to EU integration. EU and the Western Balkans stronger together,” Hahn tweeted.
Serbia hasn’t congratulated Macedonia on the name agreement with Greece because there’s nothing worth congratulating, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said and added that Belgrade sees the deal as something positive. The agreement is a bilateral issue and there’s no need for Serbia to get involved, he said.