Tuesday, April 23, 2019
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New traffic signs that were built when Northern Macedonia assumes a new name. World News

New street signs are being built in the freshly named Republic of North Macedonia.

The Balkans have simply changed their title from the "Republic of Macedonia", after a name agreement was approved on Wednesday as part of a historic agreement with Greece.

It opens the way for Northern Macedonia to join NATO and finally the European Union (EU).

One of the first practical steps the country now needs to take is to educate the United Nations (UN) and all countries that previously recognized it as Macedonia, that the name has changed.

It was seen that workers replaced signs on the border with Greece to reflect the name change that is almost over three decades of strife on the use of the term "Macedonia".

Athens argued that the name referred to the northern Greek province of Macedonia and attacked its ancient heritage.

Workers are building a new sign on the border with Northern Macedonia to Greece
Northern Macedonia has three days to change signage as part of its agreement with its southern neighbor

Northern Macedonia must display its new name at all border crossings and at Skopje and Ohrid airports for traffic signs within three days, in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement.

The license plate also changes within four months, new passports will be issued at the end of the year.

The central bank in the capital Skopje will issue new banknotes from 2020 onwards.

Northern Macedonia's former official name "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" will go down in history.

And that will be the last remnants of the now-defunct Sixth Republic "Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia".

Three other former Yugoslav republics – Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro – have already joined NATO, as have other Balkan countries such as Albania, Bulgaria and Romania.

Although more than 130 countries had recognized the country as mere Macedonia, the United Nations and other international organizations used the nickname "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", which was agreed in 1995 in an interim agreement.

Hundreds of UN rounds of negotiations staggered until 2018, when the country's prime minister Zoran Zaev and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras agreed on a compromise.

The acting Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, agreed with Greek leader Alexis Tsipras (right) on a compromise
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (left) closed a deal with Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras

Northern Macedonia signed an accession protocol with NATO last week, despite Russia's criticism that further expansion of the Balkan Alliance would affect regional stability.

The protocol must now be ratified by all NATO governments. This usually takes about a year.

When the new name became reality, the reactions in Skopje were mixed.

Suzana Alcinova Monevska, a 55-year-old meteorologist, said, "I'm glad we can move forward.

"After 30 years of difficulties and isolation, my country has a future, and I already feel that the new name removes obstacles.

"My company has received many invitations in recent days to participate in EU-sponsored projects."

Others, however, were angry about the name change.

Marinna Stevcevska, also 55 years old, said she was "deeply disappointed and emotionally hurt".

"I will not change my passport while I can, and I hope something changes to get the old name back," she said.

"I've promised myself that Macedonia will leave the country when Macedonia changes its name, and I'm still thinking about where to go."


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