Lawmakers in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are due on Friday to start voting on the name deal signed with Greece in June, paving the way for the Balkan country's accession to NATO and the European Union on the condition that it changes its name to “North Macedonia” and amends its constitution of clauses seen by Athens as expressing irredentist ambitions.
The vote hangs in the balance, as Prime Minister Zoran Zaev's center-left coalition has 72 lawmakers in the country's 120-seat Parliament and needs to secure a two-thirds majority of 80 votes to pass the laws on the constitutional changes.
The remaining lawmakers belong to the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, which also supports EU and NATO membership but opposes changing the country’s name and walked out of the parliamentary debate on Wednesday.
Developments in Skopje are being watched closely and particularly by Washington, which has encouraged FYROM on numerous occasions to ratify the agreement and secure its place in the NATO alliance.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Matthew Palmer is due to travel to Skopje on Monday, where he will meet with Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, while some reports suggest he may also hold talks with representatives of other parties, including possibly from the VMRO-DPMNE.