Pressure mounts on FYROM over name deal

Pressure mounts on FYROM over name deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the latest Western leader to have urged the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to move ahead with the implementation of the name deal it signed with Greece in June to pave the way for its membership in the European Union and NATO.

In a letter to FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Merkel said the “agreement offers an opportunity for a historic deal and for the strengthening of relations between the two countries” and that it will “eliminate the key obstacle for the country’s accession to the European Union and NATO.”

Her letter came ahead of next week’s parliamentary vote in FYROM to change its constitution so that the deal which was signed in the Prespes lake district can be ratified.

“Now it is crucial for the country to take very significant steps toward implementing the name agreement by adopting the necessary constitutional amendments,” Merkel said.

Merkel also cited the referendum on the deal in late September, in which 90 percent voted in favor – even though the low turnout led the main opposition VMRO-DPMNE party to reject the vote as “invalid.”

VMRO’s stance was derided earlier in the day by Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn as “catastrophic.” 

Speaking to Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Hahn called on the nationalist party to put the good of the country and its people above party interests.

Meanwhile, during a TV appearance in FYROM Tuesday, Zaev appeared optimistic that the constitutional amendment will be endorsed so that the country’s EU and NATO aspirations will be fulfilled.

“The perception that there is no EU and NATO integration without the Prespes agreement has been finally confirmed,” he said.

He said the interests of the country and its citizens outweigh a political party’s rating and its performance at the ballot box.

FYROM’s Committee on Constitutional Issues will convene Wednesday for a debate on the constitution changes required to ratify the agreement.

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