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Politics

Name Deal Details Undone, Greece, North Macedonia Talk Trade

September 1, 2021

While some facets of a 2019 deal that brought about the name North Macedonia for Greece's neighbor still haven't been implemented, the two countries want to step up cooperation in a number of areas, including trade.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias went to North Macedonia's capital Skopje to meet his counterpart,  Bujar Osmani to find ways to better economic exchanges of goods.

But Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hasn't moved, as he said, to stop North Macedonian companies from labeling their products as Macedonian – the real Macedonia in Greece abuts North Macedonia, and Greek companies have complained there is confusion over the labeling.

Formerly known as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM,) the country renamed itself North Macedonia in a deal made with Greece's former ruling anti-nationalist Radical Left SYRIZA.

Greece also backed North Macedonia in getting into NATO and said it supports its neighbor's efforts to get into the European Union, which has been stalled amid a number of issues, including corruption.

 After talks with Osmani, Dendias said Greece's support for North Macedonia's EU aspirations depends on full implementation of the name deal that still hasn't happened.

Dendias said North Macedonia has taken “important steps” in that direction, but he added that “there remains significant ground for correct implementation,” speaking in tender diplomatic tones.

As part of the name change deal, the North Macedonia government implemented some practical changes, including altering its official letterhead. It started issuing passports and identity cards with the North Macedonia name – but the documents indicate its citizens are Macedonian, which is Greek.

A new obstacle to North Macedonia’s EU accession bid has emerged. Its eastern neighbor Bulgaria –  like Greece, already an EU member –  opposes the country’s membership, citing a bilateral dispute over history and national identity that remain unresolved.

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

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