The referendum results for the change of the name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia went as expected, with 90 percent of voters saying “Yes” to North Macedonia, but only 34.76 percent of them went to the polls.
In order for the referendum results to be valid, at least 50 percent plus one of registered voters needed to participate. Out of the nearly 1.8 million registered voters, only about 630,000 casted a ballot.
Nevertheless, FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev spoke of a victory of the people who want the country to become a member of NATO and the European Union, without mentioning the low turnout. He said that the people’s will must be respected by all.
Opposition party VMRO had called on citizens to boycott the ballot, while the Zaev administration rallied heavily on the “Yes” vote.
“In democracies, those who decide are the citizens who vote. The citizens who voted largely endorsed the Prespa agreement and the country’s accession to the EU and NATO,” Zaev said and called on the opposition MPs to support the required constitutional changes in the House.
Two-thirds of the parliamentary majority are required for ratifying the results of the referendum.
VMRO leader Christian Mickoski said people voted “No” to the agreement by abstaining from the vote. He added that the result is also a message about the “government’s criminal policy”, arguing that the people of FYROM want the EU and NATO but not the Prespa agreement signed with Greece.
Greece’s foreign ministry said that Athens remains committed to the June agreement with Skopje and Greece would drop its objections to FYROM joining the EU and NATO in return for a change of name and some constitutional changes.