Thu, 20 Feb 2020

Macedonian Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski says additional police protection is being provided for parliamentary deputies who voted to support a deal that will change the country's name.

Spasovski said on October 22 that all 80 lawmakers who voted to launch the constitutional-amendment process needed for the name change are getting extra security because several deputies and their families have received death threats.

Parliament voted 80-39 late on October 19 in favor of the government's proposal for the amendment to rename the country as North Macedonia.

The government received cross-party support despite fierce objection from opposition nationalists.

The name change would end a long dispute with neighboring Greece, which in return would stop blocking Macedonia from joining NATO and the European Union.

The deal also could reduce Russian influence in the Balkans.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer visited Skopje on October 22 and praised the parliament's decision.

Palmer said the agreement 'is essential for Macedonia's path towards the European Union and NATO.'

The amendment process is expected to take months. After it is completed, the last step in enacting the name change deal would be taken in Athens, where Greece's parliament is to vote on whether to ratify the agreement.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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