Greece’s Parliament backs Nato admission for Macedonia
The vote means the country will now change its name to North Macedonia.
Greece’s parliament has approved a measure for Macedonia to join Nato, ending a decades-old dispute.
Politicians late on Friday voted 153-140 to back the Nato protocol that must now also be approved by all other alliance members.
The Greek vote means the former Yugoslav republic will now formally change its name to North Macedonia.
That settles a dispute of the country’s name which Greece saw as a potential threat to its own northern region of Macedonia.
Greek opposition parties said the agreement made too many concessions to Macedonia.
“I would like to again welcome North Macedonia, a country that is friendly toward Greece, a country that must be a supporter, and not an opponent, of our efforts to establish safety, stability, and cooperation in the wider region,” Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras told parliament shortly before the vote.
Today is a historic day. All #NATO Allies have signed the Accession Protocol with 🇲🇰, which will bring more security & prosperity to the whole region. I look forward to the day when 30 flags will fly outside NATO HQ. pic.twitter.com/trPtvsn3MD— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) February 6, 2019
Western countries strongly backed the deal between Greece and Macedonia, after the country’s bid to join Nato had been shelved for a decade and amid European concerns over Russia’s vocal opposition to the alliance’s expansion further into the Balkans.
“Clearly it is in Greece’s interest to promote a European course for all its neighbours, not just for North Macedonia — and not (back) the influence of third forces in the neighbourhood, with different aspirations and pursuits,” Mr Tsipras said.