Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Zoran Zaev addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday.
Securing public and opposition support for both the name change and for the next steps required for the republic’s possible accession to the EU and NATO took centre stage in Mr Zaev’s speech.
“As Prime Minister, I promise that we are doing everything we can to reach the EU’s standards. We know the recommendations and they are our priorities. We also know that we still have a long way to go, but your warm welcome gives us strong motivation to continue our reform agenda”, he told MEPs.
“Our fight for a European future was a key factor in the historic agreements with Greece and with Bulgaria. We are a European success-story - an authentic model for a functional multi-ethnic democracy. A sort of a small Europe - daily living the European motto “United in Diversity”, he added.
Greece and FYROM signed a preliminary agreement to rename the latter in June, following a decades-long name dispute, which blocked the country’s prospects of joining the European Union and NATO.
The proposed new name on the table is the “Republic of North Macedonia”.
The outcome of the name negotiations, which has already been formally ratified by the FYROM parliament, will also be put to a referendum in the country on 30 September.
The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to vote on a report assessing the 2018 Commission report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia later this autumn. Rapporteur on FYROM Ivo Vajgl (ALDE, SL) has welcomed the preliminary name agreement.
Watch the statement by PM Zoran Zaev