Greece, FYROM Sign Deal Ending Years-long Name Dispute (Vid & Pics)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, second left, welcomes his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev, left. in the village of Psarades, Prespes, Greece, before the signing of an agreement on FYROM's new name on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

PSARADES, Greece — Ending a 26-year-old dispute with Greece’s northern neighbor, anti-nationalist Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras witnessed the signing of a deal to let the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia be called North Macedonia before stepping into that country to the town Otesevo for lunch to celebrate it.

He was joined by FYROM Premier Zoran Zaev on the Greek side of Lake Prespes, which borders the countries for the signing of the document by their foreign ministers, Greece’s Nikos Kotzias and FYROM’s Nikola Dimitrov.

Zaev called on the two neighboring countries to “step out of the past and look to the future.
“Our peoples want peace…We will be partners and allies,” he said, Radio Free Europe reported.
Tsipras described the signing of the agreement as a “brave, historic, and necessary step for our peoples.” He added that, “We are here to heal the wounds of time, to open a path for peace,
fraternization, and growth for our countries, the Balkans, and Europe,” and put the feud behind them.

That ceded away forever the name of Macedonia, an abutting ancient Greek province, and open the door for North Macedonia to be admitted to NATO and begin a European Union accession bid, both blocked by Greek vetoes over the years when FYROM governments claimed Greek lands, including the real Macedonia and second-largest city and major port of Thessaloniki.

(See the live video here: https://www.facebook.com/ERTsocial/videos/1756145154465298/)

Tsipras went ahead even though Zaev hasn’t changed his country’s Constitution to remove irredentist claims on Greece and the Greek leader allowed North Macedonian citizens to declare themselves Macedonians and their language to be Macedonian.

Neither Parliament has ratified the deal and Tsipras is taking the gamble they will although if it fails later it will likely be irreversible to get FYROM out of NATO or slow its EU bid.

The deal was brokered by United Nations envoy Matthew Nimetz, an American lawyer who had failed for two decades to find a solution but pushed it hard this year, resuming talks after a three-year break amid speculation the US wanted another country in NATO as a bulwark against Russian interests in the Balkans.

The village of Psarades, on the shore of the Great Prespa lake, was chosen as a symbolic site, since it lies near where the borders of the two countries, as well as Albania, meet. Albania has designs on Greek lands too and hailed the deal.

Zaev was to arrive by boat from across the lake, to be greeted by Tsipras. Police cordoned off all approaches to the village to prevent protesters from reaching the site. A protest by nationalists will be staged almost 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.

Nimetz will also be there along with the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, right and his FYROM counterpart Zoran Zaev, raise their hands during a signing agreement for FYROM’s new name in the village of Psarades, Prespes Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. The preliminary deal launches a long process that will last several months. If successful, it will end a decades-long dispute between neighbors Greece and Macedonia _ which will be renamed North Macedonia. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, background right, and his FYROM counterpart Zoran Zaev, background left, look on as Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, right, and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Dimitrov sign an agreement on FYROM’s new name in the village of Psarades, Prespes Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
From left to right, Matthew Nimetz the United Nations mediator in a name dispute between FYROM, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn , FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, UN Under -Secretary General for Political affairs Johannes Hahn, and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, clap hands during a signing of an agreement for FYROM’s new name in the village of Psarades, Prespes Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Matthew Nimetz the United Nations mediator in a name dispute between FYROM, left, speaks as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, third left, FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, second left, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, right, and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Dimitrov, second right, listen during a signing of an agreement for FYROM’s new name in the village of Psarades, Prespes Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
An opponent of the deal between Greece and FYROM on the latter country’s new name _ North Macedonia _ kicks a tear gas thrown by riot police during clashes at the village of Pisoderi, Prespes near the border with FYROM in northern Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Opponent of the deal between Greece and FYROM on the latter country’s new name _ North Macedonia _ clash with riot police during a protest at the village of Pisoderi, Prespes near the border with FYROM in northern Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. The preliminary deal signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers in the Prespes Lakes area launches a long process that will last several months. If successful, it will end a decades-long dispute between neighbors Greece and Macedonia _ which will be renamed North Macedonia. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
An opponent of the deal between Greece and FYROM on the latter country’s new name _ North Macedonia _ kicks a tear gas thrown by riot police during clashes at the village of Pisoderi, Prespes near the border with FYROM in northern Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. The preliminary deal signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers in the Prespes Lakes area launches a long process that will last several months. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
A young man carries several Greek flags at the village of Vigla, Prespes, as opponents of the deal between Greece and FYROM on the latter country’s new name _ North Macedonia _ gathered near the border with FYROM in northern Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Opponents of the deal between Greece and FYROM on the latter country’s new name _ North Macedonia _ hold Greek flags as they protest at the village of Pisoderi, Prespes near the border with FYROM in northern Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Fani Tripsani)
Opponents of the deal between Greece and FYROM on the latter country’s new name _ North Macedonia _ hold Greek flags as they protest at the village of Pisoderi, Prespes near the border with FYROM in northern Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Fani Tripsani)
Opponents of the deal between Greece and FYROM on the latter country’s new name _ North Macedonia _ hold Greek flags as they protest at the village of Pisoderi, Prespes near the border with FYROM in northern Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Fani Tripsani)
Opponents of the deal between Greece and FYROM on the latter country’s new name _ North Macedonia _ hold Greek flags as they protest at the village of Pisoderi, Prespes near the border with FYROM in northern Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, third right, arrives at the village Psarades, Prespes, Greece, before the signing of an agreement on Macedonia’s new name, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. The preliminary deal launches a long process that will last several months. If successful, it will end a decades-long dispute between neighbors Greece and Macedonia _ which will be renamed North Macedonia. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Opponents of the deal between Greece and FYROM on the latter country’s new name _ North Macedonia _ hold Greek flags as they protest at the village of Pisoderi, Prespes near the border with FYROM in northern Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Opponents of the deal between Greece and Macedonia on the latter country’s new name _ North Macedonia _ carry Greek flags as they gathered to protest at the village of Pisoderi near the border with Macedonia in northern Greece, on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

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