Name Deal With Greece Opens NATO, EU Doors for FYROM

Αssociated Press

FILE - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks on during his meeting with FYROM Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska Jankovska at the Defense Ministry in Skopje, FYROM, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

The Greek Parliament’s ratification of a deal changing the name of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to North Macedonia could see that country joining NATO within a year and soon beginning European Union accession talks.

The agreement reached by the anti-nationalist ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gives away the name of the ancient abutting Greek province of Macedonia and also allows citizens of FYROM to call themselves Macedonians, with a Macedonian language, culture and identity.

“We will sign an accession protocol in NATO and we can do that within a short time,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Politico's Playbook. But he said with parliaments in the 29 EU countries needing to approve it - a Greek veto had kept FYROM out - he said it could “take some time,” noting it took Montenegro about a year to join the alliance in 2017.

“As soon as we have signed the accession protocol, Skopje will start to sit at the table,” he added, using the name of FYROM’s capital.

Greek lawmakers ratified the agreement in the face of opposition of nearly two-thirds of the country but still have to approve the Balkan country's accession to NATO, one of the key terms in agreeing to change the country's name. EU talks could start this summer.