Published: Wed, February 13, 2019

Country prepares for name change by removing signs

Country prepares for name change by removing signs

As of February 13, a Macedonian official said, the new name will be incorporated on official road signs - starting with one on the border with Greece.

Under the deal with Greece, the country's previous official name "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" passes into history, and with it the last vestiges of the now-defunct six-republic Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, which fell apart in a series of bloody wars in the 1990s.

"May today be the beginning of a long friendship between Greece and North Macedonia", he wrote on Twitter.

The name change resolves a dispute with Greece dating back to Macedonia's declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

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

With a struggling US$11-billion economy, Macedonia has craved stability since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, but its integration with other European countries was held back by its dispute with Greece and worldwide tension about Macedonia's future North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership, which is strongly opposed by Russian Federation.

Skopje and Athens buried a 27-year dispute in agreeing in June last year to rename Macedonia as North Macedonia.

Despite opposition on either side of the border, the deal was ratified by both parliaments.

Within four months, the Interior Ministry will start issuing new auto license plates with the abbreviation NMK, while new passports will be issued at the end of this year, Zernovski said.

Just last Wednesday, NATO members signed the accession protocol alongside North Macedonia to launch its path to membership.

The country plans to give the United Nations and its member states formal notice of the name change within days, he said.

Vehicle registration plates will also change, while passports and currency will be replaced over the coming years.

All of NATO's 29 current members must ratify the accession agreement.

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