Greece PM On Landmark North Macedonia Visit

Greece PM On Landmark North Macedonia Visit”

Greece and North Macedonia have made a decision to take the two countries' diplomatic relations to a new level and exchange embassies, which will replace the existing liaison offices in Athens and Skopje, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced on Tuesday.

The former Yugoslav republic officially changed its name earlier this year from Macedonia to North Macedonia, settling a dispute over its name with Greece that lasted almost three decades.

The two men signed a series of agreements before holding a joint news conference, during which Tsipras said: "We have lost a lot of time and now we must rapidly catch up".

In front of the Prime Minister's office in Skopje, the pair posed for a selfie to mark the historic meeting.

This is the first visit of a Greek prime minister to the former Yugoslav republic.

Ahead of the visit, Zaev told reporters there would be new Greek investments worth more than 500 million euros in North Macedonia.

The one-day trip comes a month after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Macedonian counterpart, Zoran Zaev finalized the deal that added "North" to Macedonia's name to distinguish it from a bordering province in Greece.

Tsipras, who brought ten ministers and dozens of business leaders with him, said he believed critics of the deal would be swayed once new financial, infrastructure and tourism links kick in.

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Both leaders face hard political opposition at home.

Even before the deal was finalised, the pair were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by 2015 victor Wided Bouchamaoui of Tunisia.

In Greece, some are angry that the deal allows its northern neighbour to continue referring to its people and language as Macedonian.

Zaev also asked for Greece support in its bid to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

As a NATO member Greece will control North Macedonian sky, but Greece will not charge this service, because the best fee for Greece is region stability.

He also hailed the Greek prime minister as a "close personal friend".

The two-term president is to be replaced following elections later this month.

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