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    People protest marching through a street in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday, March 2, 2017

    Albanian Prime Minister Urges Macedonia's Albanians to Support Renaming Deal

    © AP Photo / Boris Grdanoski
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    ATHENS (Sputnik) - Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama called on Albanians residing in Macedonia to support in a public vote the agreement on changing the ex-Yugoslav republic's name to the Republic of North Macedonia, which will pave the way for the country's membership of NATO and the European Union.

    "Sunday is a day when every Albanian should vote for a European Macedonia, a Macedonia of the next generation of Macedonians and Albanians as two peoples, which founded this country and represent different sides of the same coin," Rama said at a press conference following a government's meeting on Saturday evening.

    The Albanian prime minister warned that those, who would not support the deal, would betray their homeland.

    READ MORE: National Referendum on Macedonia Name Change to Be Held on Sunday

    According to the latest data, Albanians account for 25 percent of Macedonia's population.

    Greece and Macedonia, officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, have been entangled in a naming dispute for years, with Athens opposing the use of "Macedonia," which is also the name of a region in Greece. An agreement on the new name for Macedonia was signed by Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias on June 17.

    On Sunday, a referendum on the deal to rename Macedonia is being held in the country. A number of Western politicians have visited Macedonia ahead of the referendum, calling on the country's population to opt for endorsing the deal. According to experts, many Macedonians intend to boycott the vote.

    Related:

    Way the Referendum Over Macedonia Naming Formulated Is 'Scam in Itself' - Author
    Rally Against Macedonia Name Deal Leaves 15 Police Personnel Injured - Reports
    WATCH Greek Police Use Tear Gas Amid Macedonia Name Row Protests in Thessaloniki
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    name, referendum, Macedonia, Albania
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