01:59 GMT +322 October 2018
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    Protesters shout out slogans about boycott referendum on changing the country's name that would open the way for it to join NATO and the European Union in Skopje, Macedonia September 30, 2018

    Over 90% of Macedonian Referendum Voters Chose to Rename Country

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Data from all polling stations where Macedonia residents voted in Sunday's consultative referendum to change the country's name to the Republic of North Macedonia and join the EU and NATO showed that 91.46 percent voted for, whereas 5.65 percent voted against, the State Election Commission said in a statement Monday.

    Voter turnout was 36.91 percent or 667,000 people. In line with the law, at least half of the voters (903,170) must vote for the plebiscite to be valid.

    "The voices of those who voted will be the ones that decide. This is the message that we have been sending to citizens throughout the campaign. Those who decided to vote have supported the idea of a European Macedonia by a large margin," Macedonian Minister of Defense Radmila Sekerinska told reporters at a briefing.

    She added that the results of the vote should be a clear signal to all parties comprising the country's parliament. A total of 80 lawmakers out of 120 have to vote in favor of introducing the amendment to the constitution in order to implement the accord with Greece.

    The referendum was held after the Greek and Macedonian foreign ministers signed an accord in June, agreeing to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia. The agreement came as a solution to the long-standing dispute over the use of the name "Macedonia," which is also the name of a region in Greece.

    READ MORE: NATO Welcomes Results of Referendum on Macedonia's Name — Stoltenberg

    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.

    Related:

    Majority of Macedonians Support Changing Country's Name, EU Integration - PM
    NATO Welcomes Results of Referendum on Macedonia's Name - Stoltenberg
    Turnout at Macedonia Referendum Amounts to 36.36% After 91% Votes Counted
    History of Macedonia Naming Dispute
    Tags:
    Macedonia's constitutional name, referendum, Macedonia, Greece
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