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North Macedonia marks 30 years of independence with parade

September 8, 2021 GMT
Army honor guard soldiers march during a parade to mark the Independence Day in downtown Skopje, North Macedonia, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. North Macedonia is celebrating Wednesday the 30th anniversary since its independence from former Yugoslavia. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
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Army honor guard soldiers march during a parade to mark the Independence Day in downtown Skopje, North Macedonia, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. North Macedonia is celebrating Wednesday the 30th anniversary since its independence from former Yugoslavia. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
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Army honor guard soldiers march during a parade to mark the Independence Day in downtown Skopje, North Macedonia, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. North Macedonia is celebrating Wednesday the 30th anniversary since its independence from former Yugoslavia. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia on Wednesday marked the 30th anniversary of its independence from Yugoslavia with a military parade in the capital Skopje and ceremonies around the country.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev led the celebrations, attending the parade that also included folk dancers, fire service rescuers, paramedics, and farmers who drove their tractors through the city center.

Macedonia — as it was then known — was the only former Yugoslav republic to leave the federation peacefully in a region struck by a decade of wars. But slow progress on reforms and a long-standing dispute with neighbor Greece over the republic’s name and ancient heritage slowed its integration with western Europe.

After reaching an agreement with Athens, the country changed its name from Macedonia to North Macedonia in 2019 and joined NATO the following year. But it’s still awaiting the formal start of membership talks with the European Union.