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Greece's prime minister hailed North Macedonia as a "friendly" partner and called on it to join efforts to establish "safety, stability, and cooperation" in the Balkan region after his parliament approved a measure for it to join the NATO alliance.

Greece's parliament on Friday ratified a NATO accord with the Republic of North Macedonia, paving the way for Skopje's entry to the US-led military alliance.

"Today's vote closes the most important round of obligations involving Greece", Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was quoted as saying before the vote in the Parliament.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members signed the accession protocol with Macedonia on Wednesday, days after the Greek parliament endorsed an agreement between Athens and Skopje that changed the Balkan state's name. "I feel we have carried out our patriotic duty".

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation invited Macedonia to begin accession talks to join the alliance at a summit in Brussels last July.

The main catalyst for the change was FYROM's wish to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and, eventually, the European Union, and western countries' desire to diminish Russian influence in the region.

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It also exposed old rivalries with Russian Federation, in a region where Moscow competes for influence with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the EU.

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

The accord over the name angered many Greeks who believed the ex-Yugoslav state was hijacking their history with a name linked to the Greek heritage of Alexander the Great, King of Macedon.

One lawmaker described the pact as "worth spitting at", another that Greece was "humiliated".

Syriza has 145 seats in parliament but has support from a number of independents, allowing it to muster a majority in voting. 153 MPs voted in favour of the protocol, while 140 were against.


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