Greece and its northern neighbour are rarely on speaking terms, but it seems the two European countries are finally on the verge of making it cheaper for their citizens to phone home.

The country officially known as the Former Republic of North Macedonia has long irked Greek nationals, by assuming the name of one of its northern provinces.

New direction: Workers at the Macedonian-Greek border change signs to the newly named 'Republic of North Macedonia'. Photo / Getty Images
New direction: Workers at the Macedonian-Greek border change signs to the newly named 'Republic of North Macedonia'. Photo / Getty Images

With their governments now on better footing, North Macedonia and Greece have promised to slash roaming charges for traveling mobile phone users.

Digital policy ministers from the two countries on Tuesday said the measure, due to take effect before the summer, results from a landmark agreement between the neighbouring countries that is ending a decades-old dispute.

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Until last week, North Macedonia used only Macedonia as the country's name. The former Yugoslav republic formally changed its name to address concerns from Greece, which has a large province of Macedonia.

Greece is a popular summer vacation destination for North Macedonia residents.

Greek minister Nikos Pappas said the roaming charges deal was the first of many practical steps that will be taken to "usher in a new era of friendship."

Overcoming a three-decade dispute: Fireworks light up the sky in Skopje, Macedonia. Photo / Furkan Abdula, Getty Images
Overcoming a three-decade dispute: Fireworks light up the sky in Skopje, Macedonia. Photo / Furkan Abdula, Getty Images

Previously part of Yugoslavia, the ex-Soviet bloc country decided it had more in common with its neighbours to the south than the Serbs and Croats. More than confusion, the Greeks insisted the Soviet Republic of Macedonia formed by the Soviets in 1945 was cultural appropriation on a massive scale.

A Macedonian flag hangs from a statue in Skopje, the capital, during the nameing referendum. Photo / Getty Images
A Macedonian flag hangs from a statue in Skopje, the capital, during the nameing referendum. Photo / Getty Images

The northern Greek coastline of the Aegean has classically been referred to as Macedonia. It has a number of historic Greek cities such as Thessaloniki and the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1990 the Soviet Republic shortened its name to just Macedonia, thus starting the bitter rivalry over the name.

What seems like a trivial matter has led to the Balkan country to be blocked by Greece from attempting to join NATO or the EU.

Macedonians protest the name-change during the referendum. Photo / Getty Images
Macedonians protest the name-change during the referendum. Photo / Getty Images

Claim to name rights has made previous attempts at agreements on things such as mobile roaming charges impossible. That is until now.

Now the newly minted 'North Macedonia' will be able to move on past the 27 year dispute.
Once the roaming charges are agreed on, one feels the two countries still have a lot to discuss.