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Greek PM to visit N. Macedonia in afterglow of name deal

Update: April, 02/2019 - 12:07

SKOPJE — Greece’s prime minister will on Tuesday pay a historic visit to newly renamed North Macedonia to join in marking the end of a decades-long identity row between the two countries.

Alexis Tsipras is making the first official visit by a Greek premier since North Macedonia’s 1991 independence. The one-day trip comes a month after he and his Skopje counterpart, Zoran Zaev, finalised the deal that added "North" to Macedonia’s name to distinguish it from a bordering province in Greece.

The name-change settled a dispute that had roiled diplomatic ties for nearly three decades as the neighbours tussled for ownership of the name Macedonia and its cultural heritage.

The key trade-off for Skopje was assurance that Athens would stop thwarting its efforts to join NATO and the European Union.

Now the neighbours are also touting the promise of boosting economic ties, with Tsipras bringing along 10 ministers and more than two dozen Greek business leaders on the trip.

After political meetings and a press conference on Tuesday, the two leaders are scheduled to attend a trade forum in Skopje.

Ahead of the visit, Zaev said there would be new Greek investments worth more than 500 million euros in North Macedonia, which is much smaller and poorer than its EU member neighbour.

"The Republic of North Macedonia will have huge economic benefits from the deal that I believe will be seen in every area of the economy," the prime minister added. — AFP

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