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Foreign Minister Maas visits Skopje for talks in the run-up to the referendum 

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas meets Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas meets Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia., © Felix Zahn, photothek.net

18.09.2018 - Article

Second stop on the Foreign Minister’s four-day trip

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will visit the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 18 September. The visit is taking place less than two weeks before the referendum on 30 September on the agreement with Greece on resolving the issue of the country’s name.

The referendum could end the long-standing dispute with Greece on the country’s name. On 30 September, the people of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will vote on whether their country should be called North Macedonia (Severna Makedonija) in the future. Foreign Minister Maas emphasised that “agreement in the dispute on the country’s name would be an important step by Skopje on the path to closer relations with the EU”.

Prospect of EU accession for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

If agreement is reached, EU accession negotiations could start with Skopje as early as 2019. Accession to NATO could also become possible in the future. Germany supports the referendum and hopes for a strong turnout among the electorate on 30 September.

Foreign Minister Maas expressly confirmed his support for closer relations between the Western Balkans and the EU in the future. “The Macedonian Government has shown that it has a vision for its people and is committed to achieving it,” he said. “I can only encourage it to continue on this path.”

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