Republic of Macedonia to Hold Referendum on New Name This Year

(Bloomberg) -- The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia plans to hold a referendum on its new name in September or October as it moves closer to solving this decades-long dispute with Greece, Premier Zoran Zaev said.

Talks with Greece are now “at the final stage” and ministers from both states are working on the last details of the agreement that he plans to discuss with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras on Friday, Zaev told reporters in Skopje on Wednesday.

The two nations are trying to solve the dispute that froze relations for years and moved Greece to bloc its neighbor’s attempts to join the European Union and NATO. Zaev, who took office a year ago in the first power change in a decade, wouldn’t disclose the name being discussed as “nothing is fully agreed yet.” The latest name option discussed was “Northern Macedonia,” MKD news website reported on Wednesday.

The accord needs to be ratified by parliament in Skopje, where Zaev controls a majority. Greece is then expected to lift its veto over its neighbor’s NATO membership and the EU will set a starting date for accession talks, Zaev said. In Greece, the name talks have sparked confrontation between the embattled Tsipras and some members of the opposition.

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