Northern light: Macedonia makes name change deal with Greece

The new name will be used both domestically and internationally, with Macedonia making a relevant amendment to its Constitution, Zaev added.

He said that the accord would allow a clear distinction between Greece's Macedonia province and the country.

Previous comments from the Macedonian side have indicated that solutions could involve adding a modifier to the country's official name, such as "Upper" or "Northern" to satisfy Athens, although nationalists in Macedonian have opposed such concessions.

Macedonia has agreed to change its name to Northern Macedonia in order to end a decades-old row with Greece, which among other things prevented the former Yugoslav republic from joining the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev made the announcements shortly after speaking by phone on Tuesday.

"A deal could be announced even today", said an unnamed government official cited by Reuters.

Greece had long demanded that its northern neighbor change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of the region in northern Greece named Macedonia - birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.

The row between Athens and Skopje has been ongoing since 1991, when Macedonia seceded from Yugoslavia and declared its independence.

Due to the name dispute, Greece has vetoed all of attempts by Skopje to join both the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

"I have good news. a while ago we reached an agreement with the Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on an issue which has been on our minds for many years", Mr Tsipras told Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during a televised meeting. The country was also accepted to the United Nations in 1993 as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

But Macedonia feared that a name change could have a negative impact on the national identity of its people, the majority of whom simply call themselves "Macedonians".

They also urged the Council to endorse opening EU accession talks with Macedonia, which the European Commission recommended in April.