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article imageMacedonia ready for concession in name row

By AFP     Feb 6, 2018 in World

Macedonia, is ready to make a concession over its name by adding an extra geographic designation, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said Tuesday, in a bid to end a long-running row with Greece.

"We are ready to accept a geographic designation for the name" of the country, Zaev told reporters in Skopje.

Zaev refused to elaborate saying he did not want to undermine the ongoing talks with Greece over the issue.

"I want the negotiation process to succeed, we are ready for a geographic designation and I will stop here since I know this is a sensitive issue," he said.

Macedonia media speculated about several possible options, including changing the name to Upper Macedonia, Northern Macedonia, Vardar Macedonia, Macedonia-Skopje or New Macedonia.

The Macedonian prime minister was speaking two days after tens of thousands of Greeks staged a mass rally in Athens urging the government not to compromise in the row.

Athens objects to Macedonia's name, arguing it suggests that Skopje has claims to the territory and heritage of Greece's historic northern region of the same name, going back to when Alexander the Great ruled in the fourth century BC.

The dispute has remained unresolved since the former Yugoslav republic's independence in 1991.

Because of Greece's objections, Macedonia in 1993 joined the United Nations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

The government on Tuesday also officially renamed Skopje's Alexander the Great airport, which becomes International Airport Skopje. The north-south Alexander the Great motorway, at the Greek border, similarly becomes the Friendship Highway.

A resolution of the name issue is needed before Macedonia, home to some 2.2 million people, can join NATO or the European Union.

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