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    Macedonian flag in front of the government building in Skopje, Macedonia (File)

    Macedonian Opposition Party Hopes President to Boycott Name Change Referendum

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The opposition United Macedonia party hopes Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov will keep his promise not to attend the upcoming referendum on the bilateral deal with Greece on the country’s renaming, party president Janko Bachev told Sputnik on Tuesday.

    "The statement given by President Ivanov that he will not vote in the referendum on September 30 is the only right answer, and it is in line with the highest Macedonian national and state interests," Bachev said.

    Bachev expressed hope that the Macedonian president would "withstand the pressure" and would not change his mind before the referendum.

    "Now we are left with a hope that Ivanov will not repeat what he did in May 2017, when he gave the mandate to [Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran] Zaev to form the puppet government," Bachev stressed, adding that his party has been campaigning against the referendum for the last 20 days.

    READ MORE: UK Minister for Europe Urges Macedonians to Vote for Name Change

    Asked about the possibility of holding demonstrations ahead of the referendum, Bachev said there was no need for any larger protests "unless something dramatic happens in the next five days."

    "But we are planning a big celebration on September 30… We are fighting for the survival of our nation. Our fight is a sacred responsibility and that’s why Macedonia will win," Bachev pointed out.

    As for the statement of Ivanov, it contributes to United Macedonia's "efforts for the referendum to fail," Bachev stressed.

    Ivanov has been consistently opposing the deal, saying that it not only changes the name of the country but also creates a "new semi-sovereign state … with a new internal and international legal identity."

    Bachev was addressing an announcement President Ivanov made last week, stating that he would boycott the referendum scheduled to take place on September 30, calling on his compatriots to do the same.

    READ MORE: Macedonia on Edge Amid Fears of Manipulation in Looming EU, NATO Membership Vote

    In early August, a group of about 30 civic associations, political parties, and NGOs, led by United Macedonia, launched a campaign for boycotting the name deal referendum. The so-called crisis headquarters is now made up of more than 70 organizations, political parties, and patriotic movements, according to the party's head.

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


    Macedonian President Pledges to Boycott 'Harmful' Referendum on Name Deal
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    EU Commission: Macedonia's Name Vote Should Be Free From Foreign Influence
    WATCH Greek Police Use Tear Gas Amid Macedonia Name Row Protests in Thessaloniki
    Macedonia's constitutional name, referendum, boycott, Janko Bachev, Gjorge Ivanov, Macedonia, Greece
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