FYROM parliament ratifies constitutional change of name to Northern Macedonia

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev waves to journalists after a parliamentary vote to change the country’s constitutional name in Skopje, Northern Macedonia, Jan. 11, 2019. EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

Skopje, Jan 11 (efe-epa).- The parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Friday ratified a constitutional amendment that changes the country’s official name to Northern Macedonia, in accordance with an agreement reached with its neighbor, Greece, seeking to resolve a decades-long dispute.

Although Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had struggled to obtain the necessary backing of two-thirds of the nation’s only legislative chamber, the Sobranie, he finally managed to get 81 out of the assembly’s 120 lawmakers on board a crucial measure that is set to allow the Balkan nation to seek membership in NATO and the European Union.

Greece had until now used its veto power within the two organizations to keep FYROM from acceding to them, as nationalists within the Hellenic nation consider the term «Macedonia» should only be used for the northern Greek region and the ancient kingdom it derives from.

Some Greeks believe that the use of Macedonia by a majority-Slavic country diminishes the culturally-Greek influence of the vast empire that became etched into history by the exploits of Alexander the Great (who reigned between 336-323 BC).

Aside from the important naming revamp, the Sobranie also passed smaller amendments that affected the constitution’s preamble and sections referring to the diaspora, the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of neighboring countries, prompted by the landmark deal reached with the Greek government over the summer.