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Minister Heiko Maas on the agreement between Skopje and Athens on the country name

11.01.2019 - Press release

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (11 January) on the implementation of the agreement between Skopje and Athens on the country name:

The resolution of the dispute between Skopje and Athens on the country name is in the home stretch. I count on the Greek Parliament to now approve the agreement and on North Macedonia being able to join NATO and start accession negotiations with the EU in the near future.

The dispute between Athens and Skopje on the country name lasted over 27 years. Those in positions of responsibility, particularly Prime Minister Tsipras and Prime Minister Zaev, made huge efforts to finally resolve this conflict. 

They provided an encouraging example that a determined focus on practical issues, perseverance and political courage in diplomacy lead to success. This sends a hopeful message to the entire region.

Background information

On 11 January, Parliament in Skopje approved the constitutional amendments needed to implement the Prespa Agreement with Greece (settlement of the difference on the name). These amendments will enter into force following ratification of the agreement by Greece. After 27 years of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, Athens and Skopje signed the bilateral agreement settling the difference on the name on 17 June 2018. Under this agreement, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be called the Republic of North Macedonia in the future. In return, Greece will no longer block North Macedonia’s accession to NATO or the start of EU accession negotiations with the country. 

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