Macedonia Votes to Change Its Flag


Macedonia's Parliament voted to change the Balkan nation's flag Thursday, an important step toward settling a bitter dispute with the republic's southern neighbor, Greece.

In a gesture of unity two days after an assassination attempt against the country's president, Parliament voted 110 to 1, with four abstentions, to adopt a new pennant with triangular rays. It replaces a 16-point golden star on a red flag, a symbol that Greece insists is exclusively Hellenic property.

Greece had imposed a crippling economic embargo in angry protest against the former Yugoslav republic's use of the flag and the name Macedonia. Greece has a northern province of the same name.

Thursday's vote came as Macedonians awaited news about their president, Kiro Gligorov, who was fighting for his life after an assassination attempt Tuesday. Gligorov is a key supporter of an agreement, brokered by the United States last month and due to be formally ratified Monday, to put an end to the Greece-Macedonia tensions.

Under the accord, Macedonia must change its flag and publicly state that it has no territorial designs on Greece. Athens, for its part, would lift the embargo.

Talks mediated by the United Nations on changing the name of the southern republic are due to continue in New York.

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