ISSN 2330-717X

Macedonia: Referendum Talks Halt Without Breakthrough


By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Talks between Macedonia’s main ruling Social Democrats, led by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, and the main opposition VMRO DPMNE party, led by Hristijan Mickovski, failed to clear the path on Thursday towards a referendum on the historic “name” deal with Greece.

The two sides said they remained unable to agree on key issues like the formation of the State Electoral Commission, DIK, which will prepare the plebiscite, or on the plebiscite question.

“We will give chance to talks [with the opposition] as long as that is possible,” Zaev said after Thursday’s meeting, which lasted for more than four hours.

Regarding speculation that the opposition may have demanded an amnesty for its officials and supporters now on trial for past crimes, and for last year’s April 27 attack on parliament – in exchange for allowing the formation of the DIK – Zaev said only that this would be unacceptable.

“The strategic goals of our country and of all the parliamentary parties are full EU and NATO memberships. There are no compromises over these strategic goals. Amnesty, direct or indirect, will not happen,” Zaev said.

VMRO DPMNE leader Mickovski told the media that he remained “an optimist” regarding an agreement on the referendum.

He denied that his party had asked for an amnesty, saying that this was “one more harsh attempt to manipulate the public” with issues that were not in the frame of the leadership meetings.

A principal aim of the landmark agreement with Greece, signed on June 17, was to ensure that Greece ended its longstanding blockade of Macedonia’s membership of NATO and the EU.

Under the deal, Macedonia agreed to change its name to Republic of North Macedonia, while Greece agreed to lift its veto on Macedonia’s EU and NATO integration.

For the deal to be fully implemented, however, Macedonians must show they support it in a referendum.

The Social Democrat-led government wants the vote held in late September or early October, so that there is time to adopt the required constitutional changes by year-end.

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Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

One thought on “Macedonia: Referendum Talks Halt Without Breakthrough

  • Avatar
    September 5, 2018 at 7:30 am

    The people of Macedonia should vote “NO” in the referendum in order to maintain the unique situation that your beautiful country has.

    A “YES” vote would require you to adopt the Euro, change your flag, join Nato, change the name of your country and join the other failed countries of the Euro ie Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and others. Macedonia is in the position where other countries are building their factories in your country to take advantage of the wage structure and in doing so are providing employment for many Macedonians

    Who is going to pay in the vote is Yes ?. There will be a huge cost to your country if all documentation has to undergo a name change. Then there is the issue of changing all of the signage throughout the country. Then all embassy’s will have to change their signage and paperwork like visa forma and passports.

    In Melbourne Australia, the embassy informed me that Macedonians with dual citizenship, would have to apply to the embassy to obtain a voting form and would have to attend the embassy to submit their vote. I am informed that there are about 80,000 Macedonians living in Victoria Australia who could potentially vote. The difficulty of attending the embassy in Melbourne to place your vote would exclude most of these people from voting. The embassy should be setting up a postal voting system or a facility where Macedonians can attend their local church or club to submit their vote. If this is not done you will miss out on 80,000, “NO” votes

    How many other votes throughout the world are you going to miss out on ?

    Joining the Euro will result in a dramatic reduction of tourism and especially Macedonians returning to the country to visit relatives.

    A “YES” vote will destroy your country

    All the best for the “NO” vote

    Peter TAMBLYN (previous visitor to your beautiful country)

    Melbourne Australia


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