11 February, 2019
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".
Last week, parliament ratified a historic deal to end the dispute about Macedonia's name, paving the way for the Balkan country to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (1st R) addresses Greek lawmakers on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) NATO accession protocol, in Athens, Greece, on February 8, 2019.
"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", he said.
"We will all be judged by people and history. We did what is right", Tsipras told parliament during a heated debate Friday.
Skopje must adopt the new name "in the public discourse, in addition to all street signs and official documents", he added.
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The Greek vote means the former Yugoslav republic will now formally change its name to North Macedonia, settling the spat over the country's name which Greece saw as a potential threat to its own northern region of Macedonia. In ancient times it was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a source of intense pride for Greeks.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov on February 6 signed a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accession agreement, a key step toward Skopje's becoming the military alliance's 30th member.
For Skopje to achieve full membership, NATO'S 29 current members must ratify the accession protocol.
The next step is formally announcing the name change at the United Nations.
Dimitrov, who soon resumes his tour of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state capitals, hopes the process will be completed in less than a year.