04:19 GMT07 August 2020
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    ATHENS (Sputnik) - Cooperation between Greece and Macedonia helps maintain stability in the Balkans, so the collapse of the former Yugoslav republic would be the worst possible scenario for Athens, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Tuesday.

    "The FYROM without stability and coordination can collapse and it will be the worst outcome not only for the country itself but for us as well. There is no better policy for the future of the Balkans than cooperation between Greece and the FYROM, which serves as a pillar of stability in the region," Kotzias said, as broadcast by the ERT television channel.

    The minister added that, in reality, over 50 percent of the Macedonian population voted in the referendum, arguing that the actual number of constituents was higher than the official number, because official lists had not been revised for 20 years and included around 200,000 people who had already died and 350,000-400,000 people who had left the country.

    "I am sure that the majority in the [Greek] parliament will vote to ratify the Prespa agreement. I think that more than 151 lawmakers will vote in favor [of ratification]," Kotzias added.

    On Sunday, Macedonia held a referendum on renaming the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the Republic of North Macedonia, which was prompted by an agreement signed between Greece and Macedonia in June.

    According to the State Election Commission, 91.46 percent of voters chose to rename the country, while 5.65 percent voted against the agreement. However, the turnout amounted to just 36.91 percent, meaning that the referendum failed to secure the 50 percent turnout needed to be valid.

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

    Following the referendum, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said that by abstaining from voting in the referendum, the majority of Macedonians clearly rejected the agreement with Greece. The country's prime minister, Zoran Zaev, in turn, supported the results and pledged to proceed with ratifying the agreement, despite the low turnout.

    The agreement between Greece and Macedonia was signed in an attempt to solve their decades-long dispute over the name "Macedonia," with Greece objecting to its use because it was also the name of one of its regions.

    If ratified, the agreement will allow the renamed Macedonia to join the European Union and NATO, since Greece will no longer be blocking the process.


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