In an indication of the difficulties surrounding the ratification of the name deal by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), its foreign minister said on Monday that the result of this Sunday’s referendum in the Balkan nation is not necessarily binding.
Nikola Dimitrov told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that if participation in the referendum comes to less than 50 percent, then the decision whether to ratify the deal or not will lie with Parliament.
“The referendum is not a legal prerequisite for the resolution process,” he said, adding that it is not stipulated in the agreement with Greece.
Dimitrov said that securing a participation of more than 50 percent in the referendum may be compromised by the fact that FYROM has 1.8 million voters of whom 300,000-400,000 are not in the country.
At the same time, FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov Monday reiterated his decision not to take part in the referendum.
Ivanov told a gathering of FYROM’s diaspora in New York that the mandate he has received from the citizens of the country is “to refuse to change the constitution in order to change the constitutional name and not to accept ideas and proposals that will threaten the Macedonian national identity, the uniqueness of the Macedonian nation, the Macedonian language and the Macedonian coexistence model.”
In Greece, meanwhile, rumblings over the deal continued within junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL).
Deputy Foreign Minister for Diaspora Greeks Terence Quick, a leading Independent Greeks member, denounced the recent, scathing, criticism by ANEL officials of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who signed the name deal in June, saying that the government cannot afford infighting.
“This is a time that calls for cohesion on all levels,” he said.