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SKOPJE (Macedonia), June 13 (SeeNews) - Macedonia reached an agreement with Greece to change its name to North Macedonia, bringing to an end to a long-running dispute between the two countries, Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev said.
"The agreement will be presented before all political entities in the country, and then signed by representatives of both governments, to be followed by ratification by the parliament," Zaev said in a statement late on Tuesday.
Under the agreement, Greece will send a letter to the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), informing him that there is no dispute between the two countries, paving the way for North Macedonia to receive an invitation to join the Alliance. In addition, Greece will send a letter to the president of the European Council, with recommendations for launch of EU membership negotiations with Macedonia.
"As we promised, the agreement guarantees that a referendum will be held in the autumn," Zaev said, adding that once Macedonians confirm the agreement by their vote, Greece, at the end of the year, will ratify the agreement and the protocol for NATO membership.
"We wholeheartedly congratulate prime ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev for their determination and leadership in reaching this historic agreement between their countries, which contributes to the transformation of the entire region of south-east Europe," EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a joint statement.
Athens has blocked Macedonia’s attempts to join NATO and the EU over its 27-year row with Skopje over the name of the former Yugoslav republic. which according to Greece allegedly implies territorial clams on the Greek northernmost province of the same name.