Greek parliament ratifies NATO accord with Republic of North Macedonia

Greek Ambassador to NATO Spiros Lambridis shakes hands with Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov during the signing of accession protocol between the Republic of North Macedonia and NATO

"I feel we did our patriotic duty".

Lawmakers late February 8 voted 153-140 to ratify the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accession protocol for neighboring Macedonia that must now also be approved by all other alliance members.

The ratification was part of a deal signed in June to change Macedonia's name to the Republic of North Macedonia, and lift Greek objections to its European Union and NATO membership bids.

On Wednesday, Skopje signed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accession papers in Brussels that will lead to Macedonia becoming the alliance's 30th member once the bid has been ratified by all members.

Greece's objections to Skopje's use of the name "Macedonia" since the country's independence in 1991 complicated bids by the small Western Balkan state to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The Greek vote means the former Yugoslav republic will now formally change its name to North Macedonia, settling a dispute of the country's name which Greece's saw as a potential threat to its own northern region of Macedonia. "We did what is right", Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras told parliament. It says the alliance is undermining security in the region by taking in Balkan members.

One lawmaker described the pact as "worth spitting at", another that Greece was "humiliated".

Syriza has 145 seats in parliament but has support from a number of independents, allowing it to muster a majority in voting.

Both Greek and Macedonian parliaments have agreed to rename the country the Republic of North Macedonia, ending Athens' veto of its neighbour's efforts to join NATO and the EU.



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