By Talha Ozturk, Dzihat Aliju and Besar Ademi
BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – Macedonia on Wednesday re-did road signs bearing the country's official new name, the Republic of North Macedonia, at the border crossing with Greece, one of its first steps to implement a landmark deal with Athens.
Reflecting the deal, meant to allow Macedonia to enter both the EU and NATO, the Skopje administration also changed its name on the country’s official website to "Republic of Northern Macedonia."
"May today be the beginning of a long friendship between Greece and North Macedonia. We can’t change our past, but we can and we will shape our future of friendship, partnership and cooperation," Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov said in a tweet.
With the entry into force of the Prespa agreement on Tuesday, Macedonian officials began work to fulfill the obligations under the pact.
The government on Tuesday announced that signs on the borders and on international roads will be replaced within three or four days.
New passports and banknotes are to roll out by the end of this year or the beginning of 2020.
Early Monday, the old “Republic of Macedonia” sign was removed from the government headquarters in the capital, Skopje, and replaced with the new name.
Last June Macedonia’s parliament approved a constitutional amendment to change the country's name after Greece and Macedonia inked the Prespa agreement, which requires Macedonia to change its name and for Greece to drop its objection to Macedonia joining NATO and the EU.
The name issue has kept Macedonia from joining the EU and NATO since its independence in 1991.
Macedonia's international recognition was finalized in April 1993, when the country was unanimously adopted as a member of the UN General Assembly, but was admitted as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) due to pressure by Greece.
Turkey has long recognized the country as Macedonia.