The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s parliamentary committee on constitutional issues has begun debating constitutional amendments required as part of a deal with neighboring Greece to change the country's name to “Republic of North Macedonia” in exchange for NATO membership.
Changes being discussed Wednesday include modifying the preamble and two articles. The move comes after a Sept. 30 referendum on the deal with Greece. Voters overwhelmingly supported the deal, but the referendum was ruled invalid because of low turnout.
The debate will last several days at committee level before being put to lawmakers in a plenary session, likely next week.
The governing coalition lacks the two-thirds majority it needs to get the proposals approved, and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has said he will call early elections if the amendments are rejected.
In an interview with Austria’s Der Standard newspaper earlier this week, European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn condemned as “unacceptable” the threats made by the VMRO opposition to its own MPs who want to back the constitutional changes.
Zaev’s government needs 11 votes from opposition lawmakers for the amendment to be approved.