S&Ds encourage all political parties to support the name agreement on North Macedonia ahead of referendum on September 30

On the occasion of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s speech in the European Parliament, Socialists and Democrats welcome the agreement reached in June by Prime Ministers Zaev and Tsipras to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia “Republic of North Macedonia”.

S&D president Udo Bullman said:

“What Prime Ministers Zaev and Tspiras did deserves the greatest applause. After a long-lasting name dispute, which blocked Skopje’s prospects of joining the European Union and NATO, they managed to solve disagreements and make difficult compromises. Nationalist conservative forces have not been able to do this for more than 25 years. The agreement with Tsipras, whom we also applauded when he spoke in the European Parliament two days ago, serves as an example for the entire South-East Europe on how to solve difficult issues through dialogue, patient diplomacy and a sense of responsibility. No one is a single winner in a compromise; instead, both sides are winners together.

“Of course now it is for the citizens to participate in the referendum on September 30 and exercise their democratic right. This is an important moment to decide on the future of the country. Boycotting is not a way forward. Citizens should seize this chance and state clearly what kind of future they want for themselves.

“We call on the political opposition from the EPP parties in both countries to demonstrate responsibility and to support the agreement. It will not only unlock the Euro-Atlantic perspective for Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but also will help to consolidate peace and stability in the country as well as in the region.”

S&D spokesperson on foreign affairs Knut Fleckenstein added:

“I congratulate Prime Minister Zaev for his inspiring speech and I am happy that many colleagues from the EPP and other Groups feel the same.

“The citizens have to decide on the future of their country for themselves. We hope that they use this window of opportunity provided by the referendum on the agreement to settle the name issue with Greece and I urge everyone to take part. Such opportunities to clear the path towards our common European future will not come often.

“The S&D Group also strongly supports the prospects of opening accession negotiations with Skopje in June 2019, as decided by the EU governments during the June summit. We call on the European Council to make it clear that the accession negotiations will not be further delayed provided a majority backs the agreement in the referendum.”