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The Latest: Macedonia backs name change to North Macedonia

Updated Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 | 10:04 a.m.

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — The Latest on Macedonia's change of name (all times local):

7 p.m.

Macedonia's parliament has approved constitutional changes to rename the country North Macedonia, under a deal with neighboring Greece that will clear the way for Macedonia to join NATO and potentially the European Union.

All 81 lawmakers present voted in favor of the constitutional amendments. The remaining 29 opposition lawmakers abstained.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had required a minimum 80 votes to have the changes ratified.

For the deal to come into effect, Greece's parliament must now convene in coming weeks to ratify it.

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6 p.m.

Macedonia's center-left government said Friday it has secured the required number of parliamentary votes to finalize constitutional changes that will rename the country North Macedonia and pave the way to NATO membership.

Macedonian lawmakers were convening later Friday to vote on the amendments, for which a super majority of two-thirds of the 120 members — or 80 votes — is required.

The name change follows an agreement with neighboring Greece, which in turn is bound by the terms of the deal to remove its objections to Macedonia joining NATO and then potentially the European Union.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev's governing coalition needed opposition backing to get the required number of votes and had said Thursday it was struggling to achieve that after a small ethnic Albanian party raised last-minute objections.