ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia (all times local):
The Greek parliament speaker’s office says a vote to ratify a deal with neighboring Macedonia to change that country’s name to normalize relations and allow it to join NATO has been pushed back to Friday.
The delay aims to accommodate the large number of lawmakers who want to speak during the debate.
The vote had been scheduled to take place late Thursday night, but the office said there would not have been enough time to allow everyone registered to speak to have a turn on the podium.
Under the agreement signed last year, Macedonia will change its name to North Macedonia and Greece will drop its objections to the country’s accession to NATO, ending a nearly three decade-long dispute. But the deal faces strong opposition in both countries.
About 1,500 police officers have taken up positions around Athens before demonstrations planned against Greece’s ratification of an agreement with Macedonia to normalize relations after decades of strain.
A four-day parliamentary debate was due to end late Thursday with a vote that would finalize plans by Greece’s neighbor to change its name to North Macedonia and further its bid to join NATO.
Protesters from the Greek Communist Party draped two giant banners opposing the deal over the walls of the ancient Acropolis early Thursday.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government needs support from up to six opposition lawmakers for the agreement to be ratified.
Opponents argue that the deal doesn’t end a potential territorial threat to Greece’s northern region of Macedonia. Mass demonstrations last Sunday were marred by extensive violence.