Macedonian constitutional referendum, 2018
|Macedonian constitutional referendum, 2018|
Republic of Macedonia
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politics and government of
the Republic of Macedonia
A constitutional referendum is proposed to be held in the Republic of Macedonia on 23 September or 7 October 2018. The question is related to the 27-year old question of Macedonia's name dispute and follows an agreement with Greece on the name issue which prevented the accession to the European Union and NATO. The government has already started a social media campaign about the issue of the referendum.
Following Macedonia's independence from Yugoslavia, successive Greek governments have claimed that the country's name implied territorial claims on Greek Macedonia and have objected to the use of 'Macedonia' by the new state. A compromise solution – FYROM – has been proposed instead, while most countries have recognised the Republic of Macedonia under its chosen name.
Repeated attempts at negotiation for a composite name failed for 27 years. However, in 2018, high-level contacts between the governments of the two countries intensified, with the Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister visiting Athens for the name talks on 9 January, and the Macedonian PM Zaev meeting with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland on 24 January. In the Davos meeting, the first of its kind in seven years, there appeared to be some resolution between the two leaders to end the naming dispute and to improve the relations between the two countries. Zaev subsequently agreed to take initiatives that would soothe Greek concerns over Antiquisation policies, while Tsipras agreed to consent to Macedonia's bid to join regional initiatives or agreements.
On 12 June 2018, Tsipras announced that an agreement had been reached with his counterpart Zaev on the dispute, "which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side". The proposal would result in the Republic of Macedonia being renamed the Republic of North Macedonia (Macedonian: Република Северна Македонија, romanized: Republika Severna Makedonija), with the new name being used for all purposes. Zaev announced that the deal includes recognition of the Macedonian language in the United Nations and that the citizens of the country will be called, as before, Macedonians. However there would also be an explicit clarification that the citizens of the country are not related to the Ancient Macedonians. "The agreement once and for always confirms and strengthens the Macedonian ethnic and cultural identity, the Macedonian language, the Macedonian nationality. It guarantees the security of the country and provides a secure future for the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia", Zaev said. These changes will be put to a referendum for citizens of the Republic of Macedonia in the autumn of 2018. In addition to changing the name of the country, the referendum will remove references to the "Macedonian people" from the constitution which imply an ancient heritage. Additionally, the agreement stipulates the removal of the Vergina Sun from public use in the Republic of Macedonia and the formation of a committee for the review of school textbooks and maps in both countries for the removal of irredentist content and to align them with UNESCO and Council of Europe's standards. The agreement was signed at Lake Prespa, a body of water which is divided between Macedonia, Greece and Albania.
Parliament paved the way for the referendum by ratifying the agreement for a second time early July. However, the opposition VMRO-DPMNE has attempted to slow down the referendum preparation by not appointing members to the State Election Commission.
Possible wording of the referendum question: "Do you favour EU and NATO accession by accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and Republic of Greece?" 
- Macedonia Leaders to Hold Showdown Meeting on Referendum Balkan Insight, 17 July 2018
- Macedonia, Greece Sign 'Historic' Name Deal Balkan Insight, 17 June 2018
- Macedonia Govt Starts 'Name' Referendum Campaign Balkan Insight, 2 July 2018
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- "'We have a deal,' Greek PM says over FYROM name row | Kathimerini". ekathimerini.com. Η Καθημερινή. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
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- "Κλείδωσε το «Βόρεια Μακεδονία» - Το διάγγελμα Τσίπρα για τη συμφωνία (Agreed on «Northern Macedonia» - Tsipra's speech to the nation about the deal)". kathimerini.gr (in gr). Kathimerini. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
Την ίδια στιγμή -και ίσως αυτό να έχει τη μεγαλύτερη ιστορική βαρύτητα και αξία για την Ελλάδα- στη Συμφωνία που καταλήξαμε, για πρώτη φορά προβλέπεται ότι οι Βόρειοι Γείτονές μας δεν έχουν και δεν μπορούν να διεκδικήσουν στο μέλλον καμία σχέση με τον αρχαίο ελληνικό πολιτισμό της Μακεδονίας. Ο όρος Μακεδόνας της ελληνικής ιστορικής κληρονομιάς, ο οποίος έλκει την καταγωγή του από τον αρχαίο ελληνικό πολιτισμό διαχωρίζεται ρητά και κατηγορηματικά από τον όρο Μακεδόνας όπως τον χρησιμοποιούν και στη βάση του οποίου αυτοπροσδιορίζονται οι πολίτες της γειτονικής μας χώρας.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
- "Zaev:We made a deal - Republic of North Macedonia, with Macedonian language and Macedonian identity". kajgana.com (in македонски). Кајгана. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- "Zaev:The agreement is Republic of North Macedonia". dw.com/mk (in македонски). DW. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- "Severna Macedonia is born: Athens and Skopje announce 'name' deal". aljazeera. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- "Also the «Sun of Vergina» is being lost: what the agreement (original: Χάνεται και «ο Ηλιος της Βεργίνας»: Τι ορίζει η συμφωνία για το σήμα)". Crash Online. 14 June 2018. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
- Macedonia MPs ratify Greece deal, paving way for referendum Rappler, 6 July 2018
- Macedonia Opposition Puts ‘Name’ Referendum at Risk Balkan Insight, 10 July 2018
- Zaev tells possible referendum question, schedules new leaders’ meeting Thursday MIA Macedonian Information Agency, 19 July 2018
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