Leaders of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) have agreed to solve their 27-year name dispute but many steps remain before the deal to re-brand FYROM as the ‘Republic of North Macedonia’ (Severna Makedonija) takes effect.
According to a preliminary schedule the following needs to happen over the next few months:
— Greece and FYROM foreign ministers will sign the agreement over this coming weekend at a ceremony to be held in Lake Prespa, on the border between the two countries.
— Ratification of the agreement by the parliament in Skopje will follow sometime in June.
— A letter from the Greek government to the EU and NATO will follow, confirming it supports the opening of accession negotiations with ‘North Macedonia’, subject to the successful completion changes to its constitution.
— EU foreign ministers on June 25-26, and EU heads of state on 28-29 June will give the green light to ‘North Macedonia’ to start accession talks.
— On July 11, Greece will invite ‘North Macedonia’ to join NATO, a process that will be completed only upon constitutional changes.
— A referendum on the agreement will be held in ‘North Macedonia’ in September or October this year. The referendum is non-binding for the government in Skopje.
— By the end of 2018, the parliament in Skopje will complete its constitutional review that will erase references deemed by Greece to be irredentist.
— The FYROM government will then notify all countries that have recognized the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ that the name ‘North Macedonia’ is now applicable in bilateral relations and international fora.
— The Greek parliament will be asked to ratify the agreement for the integration of ‘North Macedonia’ into NATO. The other 28 NATO member states will also have to ratify the agreement, a process that could take more than a year.