Skopje notifies United Nations of name change

Workers remove a road sign that reads ''Republic of Macedonia'' in the southern border with Greece near Gevgelija

Fast forward to Tuesday, and North Macedonian President Zoran Zaev presented the hoisting of the NATO flag together with the country's national flag outside a government building in the capital, Skopje.

Workers remove a road sign that reads "Republic of Macedonia" in the southern border with Greece, near Gevgelija, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday at a meeting of NATO defense ministers, Sekerinska said North Macedonia has "shown that change is possible if you have the right amount of political leadership".

Athens had blocked its northern neighbor from joining either bloc because it claimed "Macedonia" and the name's historical associations for one of its northern provinces. "We can't change our past, but we can and we will shape our future of friendship, partnership and cooperation".

With a struggling US$11-billion economy, Macedonia has craved stability since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, but its integration with other European countries was held back by its dispute with Greece and worldwide tension about Macedonia's future North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership, which is strongly opposed by Russian Federation.

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Within four months, the Interior Ministry will start issuing new vehicle license plates with the abbreviation NMK, while new passports will be issued at the end of this year, Zernovski said.

The small Balkans country changed its name from Macedonia on Tuesday.

All plaques on offices must also be replaced within four months, while the Interior Ministry should start issuing new passports by the end of 2019.

While North Macedonia is not yet officially a NATO member - officials signed an accession agreement last week in order to pave the way towards membership - it is still permitted to sit at the NATO table as a guest. Slovenia on Tuesday became the second country to do so after Greece, which made the move last week.

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