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Decision to rename Macedonia doesn’t reflect people’s will, Moscow says

On January 11, the parliament of the republic voted for passing amendments to the constitution to rename the country in accordance with the Lake Prespa accord

MOSCOW, January 14. /TASS/. The decision of the Macedonian parliament to change the country’s name was imposed from outside and does not reflect the will of the people, said a commentary of the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday.

On January 11, the parliament of the republic voted for passing amendments to the constitution to rename the country in accordance with the Lake Prespa accord, it reiterated. "What we see comes in continuation of the process to artificially change the state name imposed from outside with an aim of pulling Skopje into NATO as soon as possible," the ministry said.

"This is being done in violation of the Macedonian legislation. The position of the head of the Republic of Macedonia and the opinion of the majority of its population rejecting the Prespa accord are being ignored," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

It also drew attention to continuing protest rallies in Skopje and other cities of Macedonia that demonstrate deep polarization of the society. "It is obvious that such method for solving the issues of national importance for the future of the country does not reflect the will of its people and cannot serve as an instrument for a long-term settlement of the state name problem," the ministry said.

As an eloquent testimony to the danger of the situation that could undermine stability and security in the Balkans, it sited "the recent developments in Greece - withdrawal from the government coalition of the Independent Greeks Party leader, Panos Kammenos, coming out against the Prespa accord," as well as the Greek government’s facing a confidence vote. It stressed that the Prespa accord is pushed through in Athens in bypassing the opinion of the country nationals, and there is no talk about a referendum on the issue.

With this in view, Moscow stressed that a well-balanced solution to the state name problem must be found "without pressure from outside, without imposing from outside timeframes and conditions, with relying on broad public support and solely within legal framework".

"We assume that the issue must be considered by the UN Security Council in accordance with Article 3 of UN Security Council Resolution 845," it said.

On June 17, the Macedonian and Greek top diplomats signed the Prespa Agreement stipulating that the former Yugoslav republic would change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. Once the Macedonian parliament approves constitutional amendments making sure that the country abandons its irredentist claims, the Agreement will be submitted to the Greek parliament for ratification.

The document is supposed not only to resolve the years-long dispute with Athens but will also to allow Skopje to officially launch the process of joining NATO and the European Union.

On September 30, Macedonia held an advisory referendum on the name change deal with Greece. The country’s citizens were offered to answer the following question: "Are you in favor of European Union and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece?" However, the referendum was declared void due to low voter turnout. According to the election commission, the turnout was 36.