US ups pressure on FYROM opposition to ratify constitutional changes

US ups pressure on FYROM opposition to ratify constitutional changes

The United States urged on Tuesday the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s main opposition to approve a series of constitutional changes that will allow the country to resolve a decades-old dispute with Greece over its name, as FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev tried to whip up support for constitutional amendments in the ongoing debate in Parliament.

In a letter to the leader of VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickoski, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Wess Mitchel said he must “set aside” partisan differences with ruling Social Democrats and vote with his country's interest in mind.

“We urge you to create space, publically and privately, for members of parliament from your coalition to decide how they will vote on constitutional changes, free from threats of violence, retribution, or other forms of coercion,” Mitchel said.

“This is a historically important moment for your country, one that requires courageous leadership and maturity. As a true friend and supporter of Macedonia, we urge you to set aside partisan interests to advance our shared strategic interests and secure a brighter future for your citizens among the European family of nations,” he added.

Mitchel said he was “disappointed” with VMRO-DPMNE's stance regarding the recent referendum in FYROM on the name deal and its current position on the constitutional changes required to ratify the accord, noting that there will not be a better deal than the one agreed with Athens last June “for years, if not decades.”

The letter comes as Zaev's left-led coalition is struggling to get two-thirds of parliament's 120 lawmakers. Addressing lawmakers Monday, he said the deal was too good an opportunity for his country to miss, as it would lead to Greece lifting its objections to the country’s NATO and EU membership.

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