Greek parliament approves protocol for Macedonia to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Greek parliament

"Today's vote closes the most important round of obligations involving Greece", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told parliament ahead of the vote.

Greece's parliament on Friday ended a decades-long dispute by approving a measure that would allow Macedonia, soon to be North Macedonia, to join NATO.

The protocol was backed by 153 lawmakers in the 300-seat legislative body, with 140 lawmakers voting against it and one lawmaker abstaining from the vote. Greece has a northern province called Macedonia.

"We will all be judged by people and history".

After holding up its admission for years, Greece became the first nation Friday to ratify Macedonia's membership of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation after the two states resolved a decades-old name dispute last month.

"I feel we did our patriotic duty".

Tsipras on Friday said the deal had "upgraded" Greece's worldwide standing.

Greece's ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation accord will see Macedonia now call itself by its new name. In ancient times it was the cradle of Alexander the Great's empire, a source of intense pride for Greeks.

Under NATO alliance rules, Macedonian membership now has to be approved by each member state, giving Greek lawmakers the opportunity for another round of verbal jousting over the controversy.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said Macedonia may now take part in NATO ministerial meetings as an invitee, starting with a gathering of defence ministers in Brussels next week.

Opposition parliamentarians argued that Greece had given too many concessions to soon-to-be North Macedonia, including a vow not to oppose its proposed NATO membership. When Montenegro joined in 2017 that process took about a year.

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.

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