North Macedonia name change enters force



Macedonia has formally renamed itself to North Macedonia, in line with an agreement struck with Greece, the government in Skopje said on Tuesday.

Workers in the newly renamed North Macedonia have begun replacing road signs to reflect the change in their country's name, following a deal with neighboring Greece to end a almost three decade-long dispute and secure NATO membership.

"May today be the beginning of a long friendship between Greece and North Macedonia", the foreign minister of North Macedonia, Nikola Dimitrov, said on February 13 in a tweet.

Since 1991, Athens had objected to its neighbor being called Macedonia because Greece has a historic northern province of the same name.

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.

"We can't change our past, but we can and we will shape our future of friendship, partnership and cooperation", he added.

Workers remove a road sign that reads "Republic of Macedonia" as the other sign reads in Greek "Hellas-Greece" in the southern border with Greece, near Gevgelija, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.

Three other former Yugoslav republics - Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro - have become North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members, joining other states in the region including Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania.

FILE - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev gesture before the signing of an accord to settle a long dispute over the former Yugoslav republic's name in the village of Psarades, in Prespes, Greece, June 17, 2018.

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

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

So, why would a country change its name?