Greece First to Approve Macedonia Joining NATO

Greek Ambassador to NATO Spiros Lambridis shakes hands with Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov during the signing of accession protocol between the Republic of North Macedonia and NATO

Greek Ambassador to NATO Spiros Lambridis shakes hands with Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov during the signing of accession protocol between the Republic of North Macedonia and NATO

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras defended the agreement Greece signed with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to end a long-standing dispute over the country's name, saying he believed his government has "done its patriotic duty".

"Today's vote closes the most important round of obligations involving Greece", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told parliament ahead of the vote.

FILE - Protesters hold a giant Greek national flag during a demonstration against the agreement reached by Greece and Macedonia to resolve a dispute over the former Yugoslav republic's name, in front of the parliament building in Athens, Jan. 24, 2019.

With the completion of the ratification process of the NATO accession protocol by all 29 NATO member states, the Republic of Macedonia, which has been recently renamed to the Republic of Northern Macedonia, will become a fully-fledged member of NATO with the right to vote on all decisions of the Alliance.

On 25 January, the Parliament ratified the Prespa Agreement, according to which Macedonia will be renamed, while Greece will lift its objections to the country's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union membership.

It also exposed old rivalries with Russian Federation, in a region where Moscow jostles for influence with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

The neighboring state must now formally request all countries to start using the name "Republic of North Macedonia" from now on, he noted. In ancient times it was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a source of intense pride for Greeks.

One lawmaker described the pact as "worth spitting at", another that Greece was "humiliated". This referred to the resignation of a junior partner from the governing coalition in January over the accord, which left the governing Syriza party short of an absolute majority in parliament.

The measure was accepted by a 153-140 vote.

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