Following protests by Greek communities both in Greece and around the world surrounding the ‘Macedonia’ name dispute, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYROM) prime minister Zoran Zaev has reaffirmed his country’s willingness to change its name to resolve the long-standing dispute.
On Tuesday Mr Zaev also said that Skopje’s Alexander the Great airport would from now on be renamed to Skopje International Airport and that its main road route to Greece would be renamed Friendship highway.
The compromises were welcomed by Athens, who said the PM’s openness to adding a geographical qualifier would be a “positive step” in distinguishing the region of Macedonia in Greece, and would also alleviate any fears of territorial claim.
“This is an important development,” the Greek foreign ministry said in an official statement.
“We hope that it marks the start of a new chapter in the relations between our two countries and peoples.”
According to diplomats, among the new names being considered are Upper Macedonia, New Macedonia, and Northern Macedonia.
While Mr Zaev been most progress than the leaders before him, with the compromises being the first since 1993, the proposed names remain unpopular among certain groups of the Greek community both in Greece and across the diaspora.
Athens has been against FYROM using the name ‘Macedonia’ since 1991 when the country proclaimed its independence. In light of this standpoint, Greece has also stopped Skopje from joining NATO in 2008 and its entry into the EU.