Greek Parliament Set to Back FYROM's NATO Accession

Greek Parliament Set to Back FYROM's NATO Accession

Greece's parliament on Friday ratified a NATO accord with the Republic of North Macedonia, paving the way for Skopje's entry to the US-led military alliance.

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.

On 25 January, the Parliament ratified the Prespa Agreement, according to which Macedonia will be renamed, while Greece will lift its objections to the country's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union membership.

"I feel we did our patriotic duty".

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, raises his hand as former defense minister Panos Kammenos leaves the podium during a parliament session in Athens, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

The Greek approval of Macedonia's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accession bid is the final step in the deal. "We did what is right", Tsipras told parliament during a heated debate Friday.

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Greece and Macedonia - independent since 1991 - struck the historic agreement to change the name a year ago, despite protests from opposition parties, and ratified it in parliament.

It also exposed old rivalries with Russian Federation, in a region where Moscow competes for influence with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

The accord over the name angered many Greeks who believed the ex-Yugoslav state was hijacking their history with a name linked to the Greek heritage of Alexander the Great, King of Macedon.

Since 1991, when FYROM declared independence from Yugoslavia choosing the name Macedonia, Athens has been protesting, fearing that the new state implied claims on Greek territory, as a province in northern Greece has the same name. He said that the process being used for the ratification is demeaning for parliament and "unprecedented".

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