Cyprus Mail

Greek parliament approves protocol for Macedonia to join NATO

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The Greek parliament ratified on Friday a NATO accord with Macedonia for the admission of the former Yugoslav Republic into the U.S.-led military alliance after a deal with Greece ended a 27-year-old dispute over its name.

NATO members signed the accord with Macedonia this week, days after the Greek parliament endorsed an agreement between Athens and Skopje that changes Macedonia’s name to North Macedonia.

Staring down strong domestic opposition from Greeks worried the Balkan neighbour was appropriating Greek heritage, the government of leftist Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras pushed the name change through parliament on Jan. 25

“I feel we did our patriotic duty.. We did what is right,” Tsipras told parliament during a debate on Friday. Macedonia’s admission to NATO was approved by a slim majority of MPs in the 300-seat parliament.

The row had frustrated Macedonian attempts to join the EU and NATO: Greece is a member of both and has veto power over other countries joining.

It also exposed old rivalries with Russia, in a region where Moscow jostles for influence with NATO and the EU. Moscow had taken a dim view of the name accord, and of Macedonian membership in NATO. It says the alliance is undermining security in the region by taking in Balkan members.