FYROM Premier Zaev: One More Step Needed for Agreement with Greece

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Wednesday said that his country and Greece are very close to a final agreement on the naming issue.

On the first anniversary of his administration, Zaev gave a press conference and said that the two neighboring countries have agreed “in principle”, and that there will be a decisive telephone conversation between him and the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, by Friday.

Their discussion will lead to the final step needed to conclude the agreement on the nomenclature of the Balkan country.

The FYROM prime minister said that any new name that is agreed on with Greece will be put to a referendum to be held later this year, “in which citizens will have the final say about the name.”

Before the referendum, however, he stressed that any agreement should be ratified by the Skopje Parliament, because “it is important for citizens to know the attitude of politicians before speaking in a referendum.”

The Skopje prime minister refrained from answering a journalist’s question about whether the name “Republic of Ilinden Macedonia” is still on the table, or that the agreed name is the “Republic of Northern Macedonia” (Republika Severna Makedonija).

Zaev added that after the agreement is reached, “Greece will send a letter to NATO so that FYROM will receive an invitation to join the Alliance.”

In his post on Twitter, Zaev wrote: “We are continuing the talks with the government of the Republic of Greece. We have never been so close to a solution. The “Macedonian language” is confirmed. Our “Macedonian” identity is confirmed. Citizens have the final say in the referendum.”