Sun, 20 Jan 2019
38
Jackson

Macedonian lawmakers are prepared again to debate changing the country's name, as Prime Minister Zoran Zaev scrambled to find enough votes to pass the proposal.

The debate, scheduled for January 11, followed a postponement a day earlier, with Zaev and his allies negotiating with lawmakers opposed to the change.

A two-thirds majority in the 120-member parliament is needed to pass a constitutional amendment to rename the country the Republic of North Macedonia.

But Zaev doesn't have the votes, which means he and his party need lawmakers from the opposition VMRO-DPMNE to back the effort. That happened in November when the name-change process began.

If approved, the change would help resolve a decades-long dispute with neighboring Greece and open the way for NATO and European Union membership.

Opponents to the proposal say they are defending Macedonia's name, identity, and history, as well as the traditions of the Macedonian people, against what they call 'the greatest national treachery.'

Athens argues use of the term 'Macedonia' implies territorial claims on Greeces northern province of the same name, and on its ancient Greek heritage.

Even if the Macedonia approves the name change, it still needs to be cleared by the Greek parliament before Athens drops its opposition to Skopje's joining the EU and NATO.

RFE/RL

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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