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Macedonian opposition set to boycott name referendum

Several Macedonian civic associations, NGOs and political parties plan to boycott a referendum on the future of the country’s name, calling the proposed question manipulative.

The question set by the Macedonian government for the referendum, scheduled for September 30, is: Do you support EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between Macedonia and Greece?”

Political analyst Jason Miko says that a different question, along the lines of: “Do you favour changing the name of the Republic of Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia and do you favour changing the constitution of the Republic of Macedonia to reflect this?” would sound better.

“That would be an honest question and the answer would be a resounding no,” said Mr Miko.

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), a non-governmental, non-partisan organisation based in Washington, says the question is unacceptable due to its manipulative nature which hides the fact that the agreement with Greece erases, in their opinion, Macedonian history and identity.

The UMD has also called into question the legality of the vote, which it claims has been called without taking into account the views of the opposition.

“A consultative referendum is a tool of participatory democracy that serves to consult public opinion BEFORE (and not after) the signing of a bilateral or multilateral treaty,” reads a UMD statement. “As such, the announcement of a consultative instead of a binding referendum estimated to cost 3.5 million euros not only sets a precedent, but also a significant expense for the state, whose people on September 8, 1991, with a majority of 95 per cent declared sovereignty, thus solidifying the name and identity of their country.”

In January organisations opposed to the referendum created a global movement known as We are Macedonia in order to raise awareness about the name change and the referendum. Between January 14 and March 4 more than 150,000 people protested against any name change at 40 different events. In recent weeks the #MacedoniaBoycott hashtag has gone viral on Twitter, and t-shirts with the Macedonian flag and #Boycott printed on them are increasingly visible on the streets of Skopje, the Macedonian capital.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Janko Becev is the leader of the United Macedonian Diaspora. We have been asked to point out that Janko Becev is not and never has been a member of the United Macedonian Diaspora’s leadership. The organisation’s director is Metodija A. Koloski.

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  • Not only the opposition in Macedonia, but the overwhelming number of Macedonians are boycotting this illegal and genocidal referendum called to erase us as a people and a nation. That the US-installed puppet government will fix the referendum is obvious. Only boycotting the referendum will ensure that the falsifying does not gain “legitimacy.”

    #BOYCOTT

  • The people of Macedonia should vote “NO” in the referendum in order to maintain the unique situation that your beautiful country has.

    A “YES” vote would require you to adopt the Euro, change your flag, join Nato, change the name of your country and join the other failed countries of the Euro ie Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and others. Macedonia is in the position where other countries are building their factories in your country to take advantage of the wage structure and in doing so are providing employment for many Macedonians

    Who is going to pay in the vote is Yes ?. There will be a huge cost to your country if all documentation has to undergo a name change. Then there is the issue of changing all of the signage throughout the country. Then all embassy’s will have to change their signage and paperwork like visa forma and passports.

    In Melbourne Australia, the embassy informed me that Macedonians with dual citizenship, would have to apply to the embassy to obtain a voting form and would have to attend the embassy to submit their vote. I am informed that there are about 80,000 Macedonians living in Victoria Australia who could potentially vote. The difficulty of attending the embassy in Melbourne to place your vote would exclude most of these people from voting. The embassy should be setting up a postal voting system or a facility where Macedonians can attend their local church or club to submit their vote. If this is not done you will miss out on 80,000, “NO” votes

    How many other votes throughout the world are you going to miss out on ?

    Joining the Euro will result in a dramatic reduction of tourism and especially Macedonians returning to the country to visit relatives.

    A “YES” vote will destroy your country

    All the best for the “NO” vote

    Peter TAMBLYN (previous visitor to your beautiful country)

    Melbourne Australia