Greek parliament set to back Macedonia’s NATO accession

Greek Ambassador to NATO Spiros Lambridis shakes hands with Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov during the signing of accession protocol between the Republic of North Macedonia and NATO

Greek parliament ratifies NATO accord with Republic of North Macedonia

The Greek Parliament ratified by a narrow margin on Friday the protocol on Northern Macedonia's accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, according to the results of the vote.

"We did what is right", Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras told parliament.

Macedonia's admission to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was approved by a slim majority of MPs in the 300-seat parliament.

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Macedonia has been attempting for decades to gain membership of the North American Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU). "I feel we have carried out our patriotic duty", Tsipras said.

NATO members signed the accord with Macedonia this week, days after the Greek parliament endorsed an agreement between Athens and Skopje that changes Macedonia's name to North Macedonia.

The main catalyst for the change was FYROM's wish to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and, eventually, the European Union, and western countries' desire to diminish Russian influence in the region.

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Many in the West hope the change will also limit the influence of Russian Federation, which has at times tried to exert influence on the soon to be North Macedonia.

The accord over the name angered many Greeks who believed the ex-Yugoslav state was hijacking their history with a name linked to the Greek heritage of Alexander the Great, King of Macedon. Moscow had taken a dim view of the name accord, and of Macedonian membership in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Ruling Syriza and Potami parties backed the vote while main opposition New Democracy (ND) party and Independent Greeks (ANEL) voted against the protocol. "Today we vote against the accession protocol, because it seals a national defeat at Prespes", he said.

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A total of 153 lawmakers voted in favor and 140 against, with one abstention during the roll-call vote broadcast live on the parliament's television "Vouli" (Parliament). He said that the process being used for the ratification is demeaning for parliament and "unprecedented".

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