EU and NATO officials congratulate Macedonia on amending the Constitution

Photo: Tanjug / AP Photo / Yorgos Karahalis

BRUSSELS – EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, European Commissioner Johannes Hahn and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg congratulated Macedonia and its citizens on adopting the constitutional amendments and fulfilling their obligations arising from the Prespa Agreement.

Parliament of Macedonia voted last night with the required two-thirds majority (81 of 120), to, among other things, change the country’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia. The change will come into effect following the ratification of the agreement in the Greek Parliament, for which only a simple majority is required, Balkan Insight reminds.

“We express our wholehearted congratulations on the Parliament’s vote on the constitutional changes today. This is a crucial step in implementing the historic Prespa agreement. Political leaders and citizens alike have shown their determination to seize this unique and historic opportunity in solving one of the oldest disputes in the region, and decisively move forward on the European Union path”, wrote Mogherini and Hahn in a joint statement.

They added that the EU strongly supports this agreement which sets an example of reconciliation for the region and Europe as a whole, and that the EU remains firmly committed to continue to fully support and accompany the country towards its common strategic goal of EU integration.

Commissioner Hahn also congratulated the citizens via video message, published on the website of EU Delegation to Macedonia.

“This historic agreement puts an end to a dispute of 27 between to countries. It also sends a very important message to the whole region: that a long standing conflicts can be overcome with a necessary political courage and a focus on the future instead of the past”, said Hahn.

“You are now truly within a reach of a strategic goal some considered unthinkable – a European future with a better quality of life, more stability and prosperity”, he stated, adding that the younger generations will be the ones benefiting the most from these developments, since they will not have to seek better life abroad.

It is now crucial to focus on internal reforms, especially the rule of law, Hahn underlined. He expressed hope that the accession negotiations with the EU can start this summer.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also offered his congratulations via Twitter.

“I congratulate PM Zoran Zaev on the parliament’s final vote on the Prespa Agreement. NATO strongly supports the full implementation of the agreement, which is an important contribution to a stable and prosperous region”, tweeted Stoltenberg.

Macedonia has already opened its accession negotiations with NATO, which are expected to conclude as early as in 2020.

A statement has also been released by Matthew Nimetz, United Nations Special Representative for the naming dispute between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

“I welcome the final steps taken by the Parliament of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia towards the implementation of the Prespa Agreement. I wish to congratulate the Parliament and the country’s citizens for this accomplishment and for the democratic manner, in which this important process was undertaken. This historic Agreement between two neighbors opens the door to a new relationship between them and to a firmer basis for peace and security in the Balkans. I look forward to completion of the process as outlined in the Agreement. As in the past, the United Nations remains committed to working with the two Parties in finally resolving the difference between them”, stated Nimetz, reported Kathimerini.

Mickoski calls for extraordinary parliamentary elections

In his first statement after the adoption of the amendments to the Constitution in Parliament, the leader of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickoski demanded the dissolution of Parliament and for extraordinary parliamentary elections along with presidential elections.

According to META, Mickoski said he would not support any changes to the Constitution for the change of the constitutional name and that the Prespa Agreement will inflict huge damage and bring injustice.

“VMRO-DPMNE demands the immediate dissolution of Parliament and we demand that extraordinary parliamentary elections along with presidential elections are held, in accordance with legal regulations, and if we go on past experience, VMRO-DPMNE will win in these elections,” said Mickoski.