Gov’t spokesman: ‘Yes’ vote in FYROM referendum positive, low turnout a concern

Gov’t spokesman: ‘Yes’ vote in FYROM referendum positive, low turnout a concern

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos on Monday welcomed the high proportion of "yes" votes in Sunday's referendum to change the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia while expressing concern about the low turnout.

Referring to the outcome as "a positive development for the ratification and implementation of the Prespes agreement," Tzanakopoulos said that the government was concerned that a large majority of FYROM citizens viewed the deal with skepticism. 

"As a result, the onus is now on the Parliament of FYROM and we hope that the initiative of the government of Mr Zaev for constitutional reform will bear fruit," the spokesman added, referring to FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

He added that the Greek government would continue to promote the need for the deal to be implemented "in a level-headed and prudent way and with a sense of national duty." 

Tzanakopoulos said the opportunity to solve a long-standing dispute between Athens and Skopje should not be wasted and said Greek authorities were flexible regarding the time frame described in the June deal. Greece’s main concern, he said, was the implementation of the constitutional changes rather than meeting deadlines. 

Tzanakopoulos also referred to a climate of nationalism and distrust stoked by certain camps on both sides of the border and accused both Greece's main opposition New Democracy of gloating over the supposed political success of those in the neighboring country who insist on the name Macedonia, believe themselves to be descendants of Alexander the Great and protested in Skopje yesterday with slogans 'no to the Greek genocide.'" 

"If the deal is damaging for Greece, how can it also be damaging for FYROM and for the opposite to apply?" he said. 

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