Macedonian parliament overcomes first hurdle to change the country’s nameAdriatic Journal 19 October 2018
Macedonian parliament voted on Friday night in favour of the constitutional changes that lead to the implementation of the historic agreement with Greece to change the country’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia.
A two-thirds majority was needed to adopt the amendment and 80 out of 120 deputies supported the change. Eight deputies from the opposition VMRO DPMNE-led coalition voted in favour of the changes, a crucial number to achieve the majority.
In June this year, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev reached an agreement with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Macedonia to change its name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia so that Greece in turn would unblock Macedonia’s path to become a member of the European Union and NATO.
After Zaev succeeded in the Macedonian parliament, the same task is ahead for his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras, who needs to ratify the agreement in the Greek parliament, as it finds resistance from nationalists who oppose Macedonia’s use of that name in any form.
Though this is a big win for Zaev, there are still two phases of the process remaining. In the second phase the government needs to submit the amendments which will be followed by two parliamentary committee sessions that will require a simple majority of 61 to pass each amendment. This will then be followed by two plenary session which will again require a two-thirds majority vote for the constitution to be changed.
The Government’s proposal refers to four essential changes: the addition of the adjective North to the Republic of Macedonia in the entire text of the constitution; the amendment to the preamble of the constitution where, when referring to state traditions, the Anti-fascist Assembly of People’s Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) is emphasized including all the decisions made there; garanties on the inviolability of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country; the care of the diaspora and the Macedonians abroad.
A great day for #democracy in #Skopje 🇲🇰! I congratulate all those who decided to walk on along the #EU path. I expect that the free choice of all MPs is fully respected, especially of those who crossed the aisle tonight. We need statesmanship, not party-games.— Johannes Hahn (@JHahnEU) October 19, 2018