Update: Would Greece agree to the name change? That’s the question that the world has been wondering since last July when both the territory of Macedonia and the country of Macedonia ratified an agreement that would change the country of Macedonia’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia. Despite strong opinions and loud protests from those who support and those who oppose the name change, this week, Greece’s parliament voted to approve the agreement. Now what? It’ll take some time to formalize the name change, but the prime ministers of both the Republic of North Macedonia and Greece have already hailed this first step as a historic move and the start of a new chapter toward better relations between the two countries. What else is the Republic of North Macedonia hoping to gain from this name change in addition to a better relationship with Greece? A chance to be a part of strong alliances like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU). Why couldn’t they be a part of these alliances before? Well, prior to the name change agreement, Greece (a member of the EU) strongly objected to the Republic of North Macedonia from joining because Greece was concerned that Macedonia wanted to lay claim to its northern territory, also named Macedonia. Now that the Republic of North Macedonia and Greece are on better terms, NATO and the EU might just be saying “Hello!” to a brand new member soon.
In July, Macedonia (the country, not the territory) and Greece came to an agreement on the name Macedonia. The country of Macedonia would be renamed the Republic of North Macedonia, and the territory of Macedonia, which is a part of Greece, would remain as Macedonia. The agreement was ratified by the two governments, but it wasn’t until earlier this month that the people from the country of Macedonia voted on the referendum. So what was the result? Well, if the result was purely based on how many people voted that the name should be changed, then the country’s name would be changed. But it’s never that simple, right? It turns out that the Macedonian Constitution requires at least fifty percent of eligible voters to cast their vote or else the referendum, even if passed, is not valid. Well, guess what? Less than fifty percent of eligible voters voted. Now what? Like many things, we’ll just have to wait and see.