by Aggelos Skordas
An opinion poll conducted by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research reveals that more than 50 percent of FYROM’s population appear to agree that their country should join the NATO and the European Union under the name “Republic of North Macedonia” - as per agreement with Greece in June.
Specifically, one month ahead of the September 30 referendum, which will ask the people of FYROM to ratify the so-called Prespes Agreement, 57 percent of respondents have said they fully (37 percent) or partially (20 percent) agree with the proposed name, while 38 percent of them disagree. The same proportion (57 percent) believe that the benefits of accession justify the acceptance of the new name, while half of the respondents (49 percent) intend to vote in favour of resolving the name dispute, compared to 22 percent who intend to vote against the proposed change, IRI indicates. At the same time, 83 percent said they were in favour of FYROM joining the EU while 77 percent said they want it to join NATO.
“As ‘Macedonia’ approaches this important referendum, the support for a compromise solution on the name dispute that opens the door to EU and NATO membership indicates a strong preference for transatlantic institutions,” said Paul McCarthy, IRI Acting Regional Director for Europe.
It should be reminded that two months ago the Foreign Ministers of Greece and FYROM, Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Dimitrov respectively signed on the shores of Lake Prespa an agreement, resolving a longstanding dispute on the ex Yugoslav republic’s name. The decades-long naming dispute led Athens to veto FYROM’s candidacy to join the European Union and NATO. As part of the deal overseen by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Dimitrov, the Balkan republic will change its name to “North Macedonia” and Athens will lift its veto.
Skopje is scheduled to hold a referendum on the issue on September 30. If the deal is ratified by the people of FYROM then it will be brought for voting in the Greek Parliament.