Prime Minister Zoran Zaev reached an agreement with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to change the country's name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia in acknowledgement of the Greek region of Macedonia across the border. Tsipras said that Athens got "a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side" as he briefed Greek President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, on the results of negotiations.
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said the deal would pave the way for the nation's eventual membership of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Due to the name dispute, Greece has vetoed all of attempts by Skopje to join both the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Athens officials had objected to the name Macedonia, fearing territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name.
He added that Macedonia "cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilisation of Macedonia".
Greece's Macedonia is a northern region that includes the country's second city, Thessaloniki, whereas Macedonia's Macedonia is, well, a country.
Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev made the announcements shortly after speaking by phone on Tuesday.
Under Tuesday's historic deal, the country known at the United Nations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be named Severna Makedonija, or Republic of North Macedonia.
Protests in Greece have existed for decades but were renewed earlier this year following UN-mediated talks between the two countries to try and resolve the issue that did not yield an agreement. A meeting of the two soon may seal the deal, he said.
"This historic agreement is testament to many years of patient diplomacy and to the willingness of these two leaders to solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long", said Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans, ' he added.
In Skopje meanwhile, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said earlier in the day that he remained opposed to a constitutional change that would likely be included in the draft deal, to provide an assurance that the name change was permanent and binding for domestic and global use.
Stoltenberg said: "This will set Skopje on its path to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership". "Thanks to you, the impossible is becoming possible", he tweeted.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also declared a deal had been struck.
The name dispute has soured relations between the two neighbours at least since 1991, when Macedonia broke away from former Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.
"This achieves a clear distinction between Greek Macedonia and our northern neighbours and puts an end to the irredentism which their current constitutional name implies", he said.
As it happens, Greece also has a region called Macedonia.
"A deal could be announced even today", said an unnamed government official cited by Reuters.
Horses had come close to breaking it in recent years but it wasn't until Justify arrived that the superstition was put to rest. Those are the concerns, but for betting purposes, I truly think Justify is a freak of a horse and will contend in this race.
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