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Long running dispute Switzerland says Greece-Macedonia deal is good for Europe

Protestors outside Greek parliament

For many Greeks, like these protestors, Macedonia's name is still a sensitive issue.

(Keystone)

Switzerland has welcomed a historic deal between Greece and its small northern neighbour Macedonia to settle a longstanding row over a name.

The agreement sends a strong signal for stability in the region and is an important step for a peaceful and prosperous Europe, the foreign ministry told Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA on Friday. 

The Greek parliament has now ratified the agreement, under which Macedonia is to be called the Republic of North Macedonia. The deal has already been approved by the parliament in Macedonia, meaning that it now comes into force. 

This puts an end to a dispute between the two countries lasting nearly three decades. Greece has rejected Macedonia’s name since it became independent in 1991, because it has a region of the same name. The dispute has prevented Macedonia from joining NATO or the European Union. 

Greek police fired tear gas to disperse crowds demonstrating outside the parliament on Friday against the Macedonia deal. Many Greeks opposing the agreement view it as an attempt by their neighbours to hijack ancient Greek civilization and culture.

Keystone-SDA/jc

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SWI swissinfo.ch on Instagram

SWI swissinfo.ch on Instagram

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