Russia on Thursday accused western countries of trying to drag the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) into the NATO military alliance, even after the Balkan country’s electoral commission ruled Sunday's referendum – which overwhelmingly endorsed the name-change – invalid because of low turnout.
“Despite the fact that leading politicians in the EU and NATO member-states openly urged Macedonian citizens to vote in favor [of the name change deal with Greece], which, we believe is a totally unacceptable practice, all this ended in failure,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted by Russia’s TASS news agency as telling reporters Thursday.
“However, they welcomed its results without batting an eyelid. In particular, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg promised to grant Skopje membership in the alliance as early as the beginning of 2019, leaving no doubt that the parliaments of Macedonia and Greece would pass the required decisions,” Zakharova was quoted as saying.
“The continuation of heavy-handed outside interference in Macedonia’s internal affairs is evident. The goal is obvious – to drag Skopje into the alliance at any cost.”