Greek PM Welcomes North Macedonia As Partner After NATO Vote

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After holding up its admission for years, Greece became the first nation Friday to ratify Macedonia's membership of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation after the two states resolved a decades-old name dispute last month.

FILE - Protesters hold a giant Greek national flag during a demonstration against the agreement reached by Greece and Macedonia to resolve a dispute over the former Yugoslav republic's name, in front of the parliament building in Athens, Jan. 24, 2019.

The vote in Athens came two days after, at a ceremony in Brussels, current Nato member states' ambassadors signed the accession protocol of the country that when the Prespa Agreement comes into full effect will be known as the Republic of North Macedonia.

During the debate, main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated the ND's decision not to ratify the protocol for the accession of the neighbouring country into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as he believes that it would be the "final act in a damaging agreement". DD News has been successfully discharging its responsibility to give balanced, fair and accurate news without sensationalizing as well as by carrying different shades of opinion.

The newly-named Republic of North Macedonia earlier this week signed an accession pact with NATO, which began its membership process. "I feel we have carried out our patriotic duty", Tsipras added.

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Western countries strongly backed the deal between Greece and Macedonia, after the country's bid to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had been shelved for a decade and amid European concerns over Russia's vocal opposition to the alliance's expansion further into the Balkans.

Many in the West hope the change will also limit the influence of Russian Federation, which has at times tried to exert influence on the soon to be North Macedonia.

Athens asserted that the use of the name "Macedonia" suggests Skopje has territorial claims to Greece's northern region of Macedonia.

Syriza has 145 seats in parliament but has support from a number of independents, allowing it to muster a majority in voting.

Greece's legislature, which has 300 members, saw the vote end with 153 in favour and 140 against.