European Western Balkans

Zaev announces referendum on Macedonia’s new name

Zoran Zaev; Photo: Tanjug / Dragan Kujundžić

SKOPJE – Prime Minister of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, announced on Wednesday press conference that his country and Greece have never been closer to resolving the long-lasting name issue.

He added that the expected phone call with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras, scheduled to take place by Friday, will mark a “breakthrough” in the talks. Zaev also confirmed that the citizens will ultimately decide the fate of the agreement.

“There will be a referendum, citizens have the final vote,” Zaev said, adding that “citizens are waiting for leadership, true patriots are the ones that provide a future for the citizens.” (Ekathimerini, May 30, 2018)

Zaev declined to comment on the possible final proposal for the country’s new name. However, after the Greek rejection of the „Republic of Ilinden Macedonia“, the most likely solution remains the „Republic of Northern Macedonia“.

After the agreement, Zaev expects, his country will quickly become a NATO member. He also expressed hope of receiving the date for the opening of the accession talks with the EU.

“I am convinced that we are on a way to a possible solution. The chances of getting a date after resolving this dispute that lasts 25 years are huge. By June 20 we will try to find a solution, “Zaev said. (Kapital, May 31, 2018)

Macedonia was granted an EU candidate status in 2005. Further progress has been blocked by Greece, with the best chance of advancing the process in years now seems within reach.
The referendum is expected to take place later this year.

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