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Tuesday 20th March 2018

North Macedonia to Hold 1st Presidential Vote under New Name


7Dnews London

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 10:04 GMT

The presidential vote comes less than three months after an agreement reached with Athens on Skopje's name change came into effect, ending a decades-long identity dispute between the neighbouring states.

The row was triggered when the country gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, seeking to change its name to Macedonia, despite the objections of Greece, which has a northern province of the same name.

Last June, Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, and his Greek counterpart, Alexis Tsipras, reached a deal to add "North" to Macedonia's name, ending the 27-year dispute.

The agreement was concluded in January after a long political battle and fierce opposition from nationalists on both sides of the border. In exchange for the name change, Athens said it would stop thwarting North Macedonia's endeavours to join NATO and the European Union.

While European leaders celebrated the name change, ordinary people in the volatile Balkans country have more serious concerns. "No one cares about the way people live. They care only about power, what remains to be grabbed in this poor country," a 47-year-old told AFP.

The average monthly salary in North Macedonia is 400 euros ($450), and the official unemployment rate exceeds 20%, according to the national statistics agency.