The Sunday referendum in FYROM on the agreement with Greece has failed to meet the required turnout of above 50% of electorate for it to be valid. The turnout was 37% and of those, 91% voted in favour of the name change. Regardless, both sides – those against and for the name to be changed to the Republic of North Macedonia – claimed victory. Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced after the polls closed the vote was a win for European Macedonia, insisting the majority of the “yes” vote amongst those who voted would give him legitimacy to push for a constitutional name change in the parliament.
Parliament can only pass major constitutional changes with the support of at least two-third majority, which means at least 80 out of 120 MPs. The “yes” camp currently holds 71 seats which means they will need votes from the opposition ranks. Zaev said that if the parliament fails to agree on the name change, his party will call an early general election. Zaev has the backing from the western allies, who hailed the referendum result as a clear sign that Macedonians are in favour of the Prespa deal.
“I would like to congratulate the citizens of the country for voting in favour of the deal. I call on all leaders to seize this historic opportunity. NATO’s doors are open, but the necessary criteria should be delivered”
– Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General
Johannes Hahn, EU Enlargement Commissioner, voiced similar support, adding that he expects “all political leaders to respect this decision and stand united”. Macedonia’s opposition, who opted to boycott the vote, claimed that referendum failed. Showing the majority of citizens are against the Prespa agreement.
The U.S. welcomes the results of the Republic of #Macedonia’s Sept 30 referendum. We strongly support the Agreement’s full implementation, allowing Macedonia to take its place in @NATO and the EU, contributing to regional stability, security, & prosperity. https://t.co/FaBKpi7JaF pic.twitter.com/N9Ik6FyosI— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) September 30, 2018
Referendum in 🇲🇰: I congratulate those citizens who voted in today's consultative referendum and made use of their democratic freedoms. With the very significant "yes" vote, there is broad support support to the #Prespa Agreement + to the country's #Euroatlantic path. 1/2— Johannes Hahn (@JHahnEU) September 30, 2018
Following yesterday's referendum in #FYROM, Greek Defense Minister Kammenos calls the Macedonia name deal signed at Prespes "invalid", while Greek MFA Kotzias says #Greece is very much committed to it.— The Greek Analyst (@GreekAnalyst) October 1, 2018
Unprecedented level of intra-government antithesis on a key national issue.
Would be quite a turn up for the books if the Macedonian nationalist boycott campaign has delivered a victory for their mortal enemy - Greek nationalists. Greece would then suffer nothing while Macedonia would remain stuck. No NATO and no EU accession talks or more EU finds.— Tim Judah (@timjudah1) September 30, 2018
Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Black Sea resort of Sochi during the Formula 1 race that was hed there this weekend. The Russian leader wished the Bosnian Serb success in the forthcoming elections, according to Republika Srpska (RS) entity’s television RTRS. Dodik, known for his strong pro-Russian views, is running for a seat for Serb member of BiH’s tripartite presidency in the coming Sunday’s elections. Bosnian media reports that Putin prasied Russia’s relations with RS, saying that about 75% of RS’s total foreign trade was now with Russia. Dodik emphasised the importance of Russian support for the Serb people in Bosnia. “It would be catastrophic for our people to lose Russia’s attention in terms of assistance and support,” Dodik told RTRS. Bosnia’s Oslobodjenje daily points out the meeting could have a significant impact on Republika Srpska’s electorate which is considerably pro-Russian. Dodik’s main contender is Mladen Ivanić, the current Serb member of BiH’s presidency.