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EU Presidency To Back Macedonia Accession Talks, Bloc's Enlargement

Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs Bujar Osmani (left) shakes hands with Romania's European Affairs Minister George Ciamba in Bucharest on January 28.

The European Union presidency says it will support Macedonia's bid to open accession talks after it reached a deal with Greece to change its name.

Romanian European Affairs Minister George Ciamba said on January 28 that he wanted Macedonia to open negotiations with the bloc in June at a meeting of EU ministers.

Romania currently holds the bloc's rotating presidency.

The Greek parliament on January 25 narrowly approved the historic deal, which had already been ratified by Macedonia's parliament.

Under the agreement, signed last year by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev, Macedonia will change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

For almost three decades, Greece had opposed the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) joining the EU and NATO, arguing that the country's name implied territorial ambitions on its own northern province of the same name.

Ciamba said Romania also supports Albania opening EU accession talks, and wants the EU enlargement process to continue, based on merits and reforms carried out by would-be members.

Macedonia and Albania are official candidates for joining the 28-member bloc but don't have a date.

Ciamba made his remarks after meeting Bujar Osmani, Macedonia's Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European affairs, in Bucharest.

Based on reporting by and AP