Greece's parliament approved protocol for Macedonia to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation after ending a 28-year name dispute.
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.
He was referring partly to the many ongoing reforms in the country - but also to the fact that all 29 parliaments of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries will have to ratify the protocol before Macedonia can become a full member.
"Once again I would like to welcome from this floor North Macedonia, a friendly country for Greece who should be an ally and not against our efforts to boost security, stability and cooperation in the wider region", Greek Prime MinisterAlexis Tsipras said addressing the plenary shortly before the vote.
"History will judge us". I feel we have done our patriotic duty, amid threats and blackmails.
Tsipras on Friday said the deal had "upgraded" Greece's global standing.
Greece and the former Yugoslav province - independent since 1991 - struck the historic agreement last summer.
Western countries strongly backed the deal between Greece and Macedonia, after the country's bid to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had been shelved for a decade and amid European concerns over Russia's vocal opposition to the alliance's expansion further into the Balkans. In ancient times it was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a source of intense pride for Greeks.
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.
During the debate, main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated the ND's decision not to ratify the protocol for the accession of the neighbouring country into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as he believes that it would be the "final act in a damaging agreement".
Macedonia will then write to the United Nations, its member states and worldwide organizations, formally announcing the name change.
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