Macedonian lawmakers weigh request for new name referendum

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev gestures during a news conference in the government building in Skopje, Macedonia, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. Macedonia late Friday fulfilled its part of a historic deal that will pave its way to NATO membership and normalize relations with neighboring Greece, after lawmakers approved constitutional changes to rename the country North Macedonia. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia’s parliament is weighing a diaspora group’s request for a new referendum on the deal to change the country’s name to North Macedonia in return for NATO, and potentially European Union, membership.

A parliamentary committee gave preliminary approval on Monday to the request by the World Macedonian Congress. If the parliament speaker also agrees, the group would be cleared to collect the 150,000 signatures needed for the state electoral commission to allow the referendum.

The group is challenging the relevance of a September referendum that showed overwhelming support for the name deal but had low voter turnout.

Macedonia’s parliament has ratified the agreement with Greece, and last week it also approved constitutional amendments to formalize the country’s new name.

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