By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The Greek Parliament has approved a measure for North Macedonia to join NATO, ending a decades-old dispute.
Lawmakers late February 8 voted 153-140 to ratify the NATO accession protocol for neighboring Macedonia that must now also be approved by all other alliance members.
The vote came after the former Yugoslav republic agreed with Greece last year to change its name to North Macedonia and following ratification of the deal by the countries’ parliaments.
Greece’s objections to Skopje’s use of the name “Macedonia” since the country’s independence in 1991 complicated bids by the small Western Balkan state to join the European Union and NATO.
Athens asserted that the use of the name “Macedonia” suggests Skopje has territorial claims to Greece’s northern region of Macedonia.
Negotiations between Greece and Macedonia were protracted and difficult. Nationalist groups in both countries opposed the deal, with many saying it gave up too much to the other side.
However, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev were able to push through their accord as part of efforts to normalize relations.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov on February 6 signed a NATO accession agreement, a key step toward Skopje’s becoming the military alliance’s 30th member.