Athens and Skopje reportedly reach deal in name dispute - English

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The prime minister of Greece says his country has reached an agreement with Macedonia to end a decades-old dispute over the neighboring country's name.

According to reports this will most likely take place at Prespes in northern Greece on Saturday.

Announcing the agreement reached with neighbouring Greece over the change of name, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said resolving the long-standing issue would open his country's access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said the deal would pave the way for the nation's eventual membership of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

"We have been solving a two-and-a-half-decade dispute. that has been drowning the country", he said, adding that the deal "will strengthen the Macedonian identity".

While the debate over the name might seem trivial, Greece has gone as far as to block Macedonia from joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or the European Union because of its name.

"The PES calls on all governments in the EU to prove that those who make hard decisions are rewarded and invite Skopje to start the accession negotiations with the European Union at the 28-29 June EU summit", he said.

The EU's enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn and foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini responded with an enthusiastic welcome for the agreement. And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans, ' he added.

Matthew Nimetz said in a statement he had "no doubt this agreement will lead to a period of enhanced relations between the two neighbouring countries and especially between their people".

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His comment on the "wider Western Balkans" came amid Western concern that Russian Federation is prepared to use dirty tricks to hold back progress.

Greece is to ratify the deal in parliament after Macedonia has made the necessary changes to its constitution, Tsipras said.

Tsipras added that once Skopje ratifies the deal in Parliament and revises its constitution to rid it of anything that could be construed as irredentist, then Athens will lift its objections to FYROM's European Union accession and its induction to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. "We just saw a press conference where the defeat is shown as a fake victory", Hristijan Mickoski, president of opposition party VMRO-DPMNE said.

"This is a bad agreement that is in conflict with the majority of the Greek people", he said.

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement congratulating the two prime ministers "in reaching this historic agreement between their countries, which contributes to the transformation of the entire region of South-East Europe".

Macedonia will also amend its constitution to reflect the change. The Greek parliament will also have to agree to the proposal.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, will meet Zaev in Berlin on Wednesday to give her blessing to his efforts to join Europe.

"I am encouraged by the dedication of both governments to deliver mutual benefits for all their citizens through the establishment of a strategic partnership as a basis for intensified cooperation across all sectors", he said in a statement.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted his support for the agreement: 'Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible'.

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