Macedonian government submits deal on new name to parliament


SKOPJE: Macedonia’s government on Monday set in motion the process of ratifying an initial agreement with southern neighbor Greece, under which it will change its name to “North Macedonia” and hopefully end a bitter 27-year dispute.
Macedonian government spokesman Mile Bosnjakovski said a cabinet meeting approved the agreement and formally forwarded it to parliament for ratification. It was not immediately clear when lawmakers would start the debate.
The preliminary agreement, which will take months to complete and faces several hurdles on the way, was signed Sunday by the two countries’ foreign ministers in the border Prespa Lakes area.
While the deal will see Greece lifting its objections to Macedonia joining NATO and the European Union, and normalize bilateral relations, many still oppose it on both sides of the border. They argue that the other country has secured too many concessions from their own government.
Seven Macedonian policemen were injured and 25 protesters detained during clashes late Sunday in the capital of Skopje, as demonstrators opposed to the name deal tried to push their way into parliament.
The Interior Ministry said police used tear gas to stop the demonstrators, who were throwing stones and firecrackers. The statement made no mention of injuries among the protesters. A few thousand people took part in the demonstration.
Also, police said Monday that unknown arsonists set fire overnight to the car of a lawmaker in Macedonia’s left-wing governing party who had attended Sunday’s signing ceremony.