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North Macedonian Minister Who Taunted Greece With Sign Fired

Αssociated Press

FILE - Lawmakers, party leaders and guests attend the session of the parliament to ratify the NATO accession agreement, in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

SKOPJE - North Macedonia Labor Minister Rashela Mizrahi was ousted by Parliament from a caretaker government for appearing during a press conference next to a sign that read Republic of Macedonia, breaking terms of a name deal with Greece.

Lawmakers voted 62-26 to fire Mizrahi, a member of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, for violating the country’s constitution that saw its name changed to North Macedonia from The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the 2018 agreement with Greece.

Her party had opposed the deal but the government said she had violated the constitution,  “jeopardizing the country’s Euro-Atlantic future.”

Under the deal that gave away the name of the abutting ancient Greek province of Macedonia, Greece - then under the rule of the Radical Left SYRIZA which brought the agreement in the face of ferocious opposition - lifted vetoes keeping the now North Macedonia out of NATO and beginning European Union accession talks.

Lifting his objections, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would allow North Macedonia to begin talks on EU membership if the Commission gives them a positive review in March despite the country’s notorious reputation for corruption.

Macron had refused to approve the start of accession negotiations at a summit in October but didn’t say why he’s changing his mind now after saying the country wasn’t yet fit to be in the EU.

North Macedonia’s interim Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski called for Misrahi to be fired but it wasn’t explained why he had to go to Parliament and didn’t remove her himself after she put up the Macedonia sign.

Mizrahi, who belongs to the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, caused a furor posing in front of the contentious sign for a press conference, leading Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, who was one of the signatories of the deal to say it jeopardizes relations with Greece.

Mizrahi said she was correcting an “injustice” by standing in front of a plaque bearing the country’s old name – Republic of Macedonia – instead of North Macedonia – which had been changed from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM.)

She ironically said she “should thank” her predecessor, current Vice Prime minister Mila Carovska, for not having commissioned a new plaque for the ministry with the new name, and so “recognizing that this is the Republic of Macedonia and that (we are) Macedonians,” reported Balkan Insight.