Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Macedonian Opposition Leader Urges Parl't Dissolution After Name Change Approval

Macedonian Opposition Leader Urges Parl't Dissolution After Name Change Approval

That prompted VMRO-DPMNE leaders to denounce "bribes and threats" used by Zaev to reach the necessary majority.

Macedonia late Friday fulfilled its part of a historic deal that will pave its way to NATO membership and normalize relations with neighboring Greece, after lawmakers approved constitutional changes to rename the country North Macedonia.

"My sincerest congratulations to political actors and citizens of the hopefully soon to be North Macedonia on parliament's vote on the constitutional changes", Hahn tweeted.

Representatives of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE boycotted the vote that took place on January 11.

The agreement on changing the name comes after a 27-year dispute, with Greece complaining that the name Macedonia implies claims on Greece's own territory and cultural heritage.

Macedonia's rightwing president, Gjorge Ivanov, has been a vocal opponent of the proposed name change and continues to speak out against it.

The EU's Federica Mogherini said Friday that the Macedonian parliament's approval of the constitutional changes is "a crucial step" in implementing the deal with Greece.

Only 36.08 percent of 1.8 million voters participated in the referendum to rename Macedonia, while the law requires a turnout of at least 50 percent plus one vote for the referendum to be valid.

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Eighty-one deputies in the 120-seat parliament voted in favor, securing the required two-thirds majority, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.

Zaev, who came to power in May 2017, will now look to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to uphold his end of the deal, which was brokered past year.

Albania has congratulated Macedonia's parliament vote on name change as "a clear demonstration of statesmanship unlocking North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union path".

Although his junior coalition partner opposes the deal, Tsipras has voiced confidence he will be able to secure ratification with the backing of opposition lawmakers.

The countries struck the deal on the new name in June, but Macedonia will start using it only after lawmakers in Greece also ratify the agreement.

For the deal to come into effect, Greece's parliament must now convene in coming weeks to ratify it.

Greece is bound by terms of the deal to stop blocking Macedonia from NATOand other worldwide groups and to allow it to start European Union accession talks as part of the deal.

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