01:41 GMT08 August 2020
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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The people of Macedonia have to make their decision in the upcoming referendum for the country's new name based on their objective opinions, free of foreign influence, European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said on Monday.

    "I had a very similar question not a long time ago in this press room and I said very clearly that the citizens have to be informed when they go and vote [in] this referendum… in an objective manner, free of external interference, and they have historic opportunity to exercise their democratic rights," Kocijancic told a press briefing asked about the claims of Russia's alleged interference in Macedonia's affairs.

    Earlier on Monday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who arrived in Skopje for a working visit, accused Russia of trying to influence the outcome of the referendum. However, this was refuted by Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who said there was no evidence that Russia or any other country has been engaged in an "anti-referendum" campaign in Macedonia, according to the B92 Serbian broadcaster.

    READ MORE: Way the Referendum Over Macedonia Naming Formulated Is 'Scam in Itself' — Author

    On June 17, the Greek and Macedonian foreign ministers signed an agreement on the former Yugoslav Republic's renaming to the Republic of North Macedonia after a decades-long dispute.

    READ MORE: Rally Against Macedonia Name Deal Leaves 15 Police Personnel Injured — Reports

    A referendum on Macedonia's new constitutional name will be held on September 30, and if the move is approved, the country will be able to seek NATO and EU membership.


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    referendum, agreement, vote, foreign policy, EU, NATO, Jim Mattis, Zoran Zaev, Macedonia
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