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Hundreds Of Macedonians Protest Country's Name Change

Macedonian Student Movement Protests Name Change
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WATCH: Macedonians Protest Name Change

Hundreds of people gathered in the center of the Macedonian capital late on June 23 to protest against a landmark agreement with Greece to rename the country.

Protests have taken place both in Greece and Macedonia since the two countries' foreign ministers signed a deal on June 17 to rename the former Yugoslav republic the "Republic of North Macedonia."

The rally outside Macedonia's parliament in Skopje was held under the slogan "Never north, always Macedonia."

The demonstrators called for the government of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev to resign, and urged President Gjorge Ivanov to veto the accord following its ratification by parliament.

Lawmakers on June 20 voted 69-0 for the bill to ratify the agreement, which required a simple majority from at least 61 deputies, the minimum requirement for a quorum.

The agreement ends a 27-year dispute between Athens and Skopje and paves the way for Macedonia to begin membership talks with the European Union and NATO.

But President Ivanov has pledged to veto the accord, which would force parliament to repeat the vote. If the agreement is ratified again -- this time with an absolute majority -- then Ivanov will be unable to block it.

The name dispute between Skopje and Athens dates back to 1991, when Macedonia peacefully broke away from Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.

Greece has objected to the name Macedonia, fearing territorial claims on its eponymous northern region.

Because of Greek objections, Macedonia was admitted to the UN under a provisional name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Greece, an EU and NATO member, has also cited the dispute to veto Macedonia's bid to join the two organizations.

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