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Macedonia sets September 30 for name change referendum

Staff Writer |
Macedonia on Monday set September 30 to hold a landmark referendum on a deal with Greece to resolve a name dispute.

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In Macedonia’s parliament, 68 of 120 lawmakers voted for the date. There were no abstentions or No votes, but 52 deputies were absent from the chamber.

The main opposition party, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) strongly opposed the referendum and left the session.

Party members said that the deal with Athens should not be linked with the country's EU and NATO membership bids.

On June 17, Greece and its northern neighbor signed a historic accord on renaming Macedonia, ending a longstanding dispute between the two countries.

The deal proposes changing Macedonia's name to the Republic of North Macedonia and will enable Greece to lift its veto on Macedonia's EU and NATO accession.

Greece, both a NATO and EU member, has long opposed Macedonia’s official name, as it has a region by the same name in the north of its country.

Due to Athens’ veto, the dispute has been one of the main obstacles to Macedonia’s ambitions to join NATO and the EU.

Negotiations between Macedonia and Greece had recently stepped up, as the new government in Skopje sought progress in its bid to join NATO and the EU.

Despite the dispute between Athens and Skopje, many countries, including Turkey, recognize the country as Macedonia.

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