Athens Chamber of Commerce: 'Macedonia' must belong to Greece for commercial purposes

Foreign ministers of Greece Nikos Kotzias and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

RFE/RL reports that hours after the event, in Skopje, Macedonia's capital, hundreds of people protested in what became a riot with the police, waving flags and chanting their opposition to changing the country's name.

The bilateral agreement was signed by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his counterpart Nikola Dimitrov, as well as Nimetz for the United Nations, with Tsipras and Macedonia/FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev standing behind them.

The name deal has also polarised Macedonian society.

Macedonia will still have to make about 150 changes to its constitution and the agreement must be approved by the parliaments of both countries before it can go into effect.

New Democracy said the ruling coalition is "binding Greece into a deal which creates faits accomplis that will be extremely hard to reverse in the future".

Some of the demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at police securing the country's parliament, prompting the response, A1 TV reported. Meanwhile, the country's president, Gjorge Ivanov, said he will not sign the accord.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has also pledged to hold a referendum on the deal.

"It is opposed by the vast majority of Greeks", New Democracy said, amid a recent poll by the Proto Thema newspaper, which showed that 68 percent of Greeks did not like the agreement.

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The clashes came after foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia signed a preliminary deal that would see Macedonia being renamed "North Macedonia", during a meeting on Sunday on the two countries' border.

The Greek side should also ensure that its northern neighbours did not copy strong Greek brands linked to Macedonia.

Greece and Macedonia, a Balkan nation which was born after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, looked to have resolved a dispute which has dragged on for nearly 30 years.

The developments come amid heightened geopolitical tension with Russian Federation, which stands accused of having tried to stage a coup in Montenegro to stop it from joining the Western bloc, amid other dirty tricks.

"It's our historic responsibility to ensure that this step we are making isn't left up in the air", Tsipras said, after the two countries' foreign ministers signed a provisional text.

But the Kremlin has nothing against Macedonia's EU entry, Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told the Greek government in Athens on Friday. "Two Balkan countries are proving that this is a region that is part of Europe, because we deal with our issues on our own in a European way". Greeks say calling it Macedonia implies a claim over a region of the same name in northern Greece. "By signing the agreement. we have really moved mountains".

Nimetz, who turned 79 on Sunday, and was given a birthday cake, has been trying to broker a solution since 1994, first as a USA envoy and subsequently on behalf of the UN.

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