FYROM moves closer to name change

Constitutional amendments which refer to change of the country's name were adopted in the Parliament

Photo: EPA Protestors demonstrating against country`s rename during the Parliament session in front of the Parliament building in Skopje

Macedonia moved closer on Sunday to rename the country and remove a key hurdle on the road to breaking a decades-long stalemate with Greece, after 67 MPs in the 120-member parliament vote for a second reading of four amendments to the country's constitution. 

The first amendment envisages in the Constitution the words "Republic of Macedonia" to be replaced by the words "Republic of North Macedonia", and the word "Macedonia" is replaced by the words "North Macedonia", except in Article 36, which has a historical axis and refers to "Special social rights of fighters from the Anti-Fascist War and from all national liberation wars of Macedonia". According to the MPs from the ruling majority, amendment 33 refers to the name of the state and with it finally defines the name of our country in a wider historical context and the geographical determinant North which is added is practically real, but also a historical solution to the definition of a modern state, which wants to build its existence on universal principles in a globalised world.

To pave the way for a final vote on change of name into "North Macedonia", they need to back the constitutional amendments by a two-thirds majority by the end of January. The ball will then move to Greece's court with ratification also required in Greece's Parliament before the name change is considered approved. Thereafter, when the change is being finalised, Athens has promised to lift its veto on Skopje's attempts to join NATO and the EU, since it has blocked the road for country's membership for years, insisting the name Macedonia should apply solely to its own northern province.

The name change, however is undoubtedly an uphill battle. Especially since many critics of the deal argue that Macedonia is being bullied by Greece. Several thousand protesters from Macedonia's right-wing opposition even marched through the capital Skopje Wednesday to protest Prime Minister Zoran Zaev bid to change the country's name. 

They were led by the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party that lost power in 2017 and has seen its ranks weakened further in recent months. The party has, however, so far failed to thwart the so-called Prespes deal between Zaev and Greece, that was struck this year.

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