Greece approves NATO protocol on Macedonia’s accession

Athens [Greece]: The Greek Parliament approved NATO’s protocol for Macedonia’s accession to the military pact here on Friday, following a landmark name-change deal last week.

Macedonia’s renaming to “The Republic of North Macedonia” was the name issue between Greece and Macedonia, that had kept the Balkan country from joining both the NATO and the European Union (EU), reports Al Jazeera.

“Today’s vote closes the most important round of obligations involving Greece,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was quoted as saying before the vote in the Parliament.

“I’d like to welcome North Macedonia, a country friendly to Greece, a country that must be an ally in efforts to establish security, stability and peace in the region.”

“History will judge us. I feel we have carried out our patriotic duty,” Tsipras added.

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg presided over Wednesday’s ceremony a NATO’s headquarters, where Macedonia was invited to join the pact. Macedonia’s Foreign Minister, Nikola Dimitrov, signed the protocol on Skopje’s behalf at the event.

The Greek Parliament on January 26 passed the Macedonia name-change deal with a majority of 153 votes in favour of the deal, while the 146 legislators voting against the deal, out of a total 300-seats in the Parliament.

Macedonia has been attempting for decades to gain membership of the North American Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU). However, Greece raised objections to the official usage of Macedonia’s name, arguing that it implies territorial aspirations against a northern Greek region with the same name.