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US Interprets Failed Macedonia Vote as Approving Name Change, Urges Compliance

© AP Photo / Boris GrdanoskiPeople protest marching through a street in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday, March 2, 2017
People protest marching through a street in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday, March 2, 2017 - Sputnik International
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US government welcomes what it sees as the "positive results" of Macedonia's renaming referendum, Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana White said on Monday, despite indications that turnout was insufficient for the vote to be binding.

“The United States welcomes the positive results of Macedonia’s consultative referendum in which the citizens of Macedonia accepted the Prespa Agreement between Macedonia and Greece,” White said in a statement. “We strongly support implementing this agreement.”

READ MORE: North Macedonia Referendum: How Many Nations Have Changed Their Names and Why?

The Trump administration remains “unwavering” in its commitment to a strong bilateral defense relationship with Macedonia, which was a strong contributor to the NATO mission in Afghanistan and regional security in the Western Balkans, White said.

“We support our Macedonian friends as they chart their own course to achieve peace and prosperity for their people,” she said.

Building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens - Sputnik International
Greece Sees Results of Macedonian Referendum as Controversial But Respects Them
Chairman of Macedonia's State Election Commission Oliver Derkoski said on Monday that Macedonia's consultative referendum on the renaming the country had failed, as the turnout was below the required 50 percent. However, over 91.46 percent of those who voted, opted for the name change.

If the country does change its name, it will allow Macedonia to become a member of the European Union and NATO, because prior to the agreement, the process was blocked by Greece, which expressed concerns that Skopje might try to claim Greece’s own region of the same name.

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