Macedonia: vote on solution to name dispute

The citizens of the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) will vote on Sunday on the compromise negotiated with Athens in the name dispute under which the country would change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. The Greek parliament is expected to vote on the deal at the start of next year. Commentators explain what's at stake for all sides.

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Delo (SI) /

Choosing between Europe and the periphery

Sunday's referendum is about a lot more than just a name, Tine Kračun, director of the Slovenian think tank Institute for Strategic Solutions writes in Delo:

“It's above all a referendum on whether Macedonia should accelerate its pro-European course or be sidelined somewhere in the East. While the countries of the West want Macedonia in Nato, Russia wants to extend its influence. Russia's geostrategic goal is for Macedonia to remain outside Nato. China, too, will be able to push through its economic interests more easily if Macedonia doesn't become a member of the euro-Atlantic alliance.”

Fokus (MK) /

Don't make the same mistake as the British

Fokus compares the referendum on the name change to the Brexit vote:

“After the Brexit referendum it emerged that it was mainly older and less well-informed citizens more susceptible to false information who voted for Britain to leave the EU. Unlike the British, the Macedonians won't have the luxury of being able to reconsider their decision, because Macedonia is neither as big nor as economically powerful as the UK. ... So whatever the outcome on September 30, it is important that voters are well informed. The people must familiarise themselves with the agreement [with Greece] and decide whether it will have a positive or negative impact on their quality of living.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Tsipras's last card

The agreement is hugely important for the Greek prime minister, Kathimerini explains:

“Tsipras pays attention to how he is perceived today [on the international stage], and is also looking to the day after. All that might explain his insistence on pushing the Prespes agreement and its ratification in the Greek Parliament. He has never really acted against majority will in the past and obviously knows well what the cost of seeing the deal through will be. Having lost his appeal among much of the left and with his sway over the financial markets in decline, this is perhaps the only international card he is left with and he will be playing it in the coming months.”