Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Monday that no deal was reached with the largest opposition party on a referendum on a new country’s name agreed with Greece, Belgrade-based Beta news agency reported.
The meeting of the four main Macedonian parliamentary parties’ leaders lasted for nine hours on Monday, and the head of the VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski refused to support the popular vote on the country’s new name, The Republic of North Macedonia.
He also rejected to call on his party’s supporters to vote on the referendum, a decisive move for Macedonia’s NATO membership and the start of its accession talks with the European Union.
“Mickoski, unfortunately, did not recognise the momentum,“ Zaev said, adding that the VMRO-DPMNE leader was only interested in securing amnesty for his party former leadership including the current president Nikola Gruevski.
Gruevski vetoed the deal with Greece once and then again refused to sign it after the parliament voted in favour for the second time, saying it was against the national interests.
Zaev accused Mickoski of lying, adding he “tried to hide his real intents, but when he saw I refuse to discuss the amnesty, he refused to agree” on the referendum.
“His position was if there is no amnesty, no referendum. He got everything (else) he asked for, and the only thing he had to do was to call on his party’s membership to vote as they want,” Zaev said.
Mickoski told reporters he could not agree with the type of the referendum and the question the citizens would be asked because he said he “represented the interest of the Macedonians.”
The referendum is crucial for Macedonia’s NATO membership. The Alliance invited Skopje to its ranks, providing it changes the country’s constitution to include the new name.
The EU said it would open membership negotiations next July, but they also had to be under the new name agreed with Athens after the 27-year-long dispute that kept Macedonia on hold in the Euro-Atlantic integration.