The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia faced a historical name-change referendum on Sunday. This was meant to pave the way to the newly emerged Balkan state to EU and NATO membership. It was hoped to settle the years-long dispute with Greece over the name ‘Macedonia’.
Greece maintains the Slavic country’s present name implies territorial claims to its historical province Macedonia. A compromise deal was about to rename the state ‘North Macedonia.’ Hence, the deal would ensure that Greece would no longer wage diplomatic wars against its neighbor.
But despite more than 90% having voted in favor of the change, the low turnout of 36.9% de facto makes the referendum illegitimate.
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev urged the opposition to support the referendum. Zaev threatened to call early parliamentary elections, should the Parliament fail to ratify the outcome with two-thirds of MPs.
The first Macedonian state was proclaimed after the end of the World War Two. It was incorporated as a separate socialist republic in the Yugoslav federation. This was followed by an adoption of a Macedonian language. It is, together with Bulgarian, one of the only two languages from the whole Slavic language group not to have a case-system.