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The September 30 Referendum, And Macedonia’s Message To The West


The September 30 Referendum, And Macedonia’s Message To The West
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RFE/RL Balkan Service Director Arbana Vidishiqi says it will be a bumpy road ahead for Macedonia and the West following the failure of the September 30 referendum and its promise to put the country on a path to NATO membership. The result poses a challenge to Macedonia’s deeply divided ruling party and opposition, but also to the West, which may be facing diminishing influence inside the country.

Macedonia's September 30 referendum on changing its name as part of a deal to end a decades-old dispute with neighboring Greece fell short of the 50 percent turnout required to make the nonbinding vote valid. The name change is part of an effort to clear a path toward Macedonia's eventual admission into NATO and the European Union.

Among the roughly 37 percent of eligible Macedonians who voted, the measure reportedly received strong support, prompting Prime Minister Zoran Zaev to vow to "do everything" to forge ahead with changing the country's name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

RFE/RL Balkan Service Director Arbana Vidishiqi says it will be a bumpy road ahead for Macedonia and the West, as the result poses a challenge to Macedonia’s deeply divided ruling party and opposition, but also to the West, which may be facing diminishing influence inside the country.

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Arbana Vidishiqi is the director or RFE/RL’s Balkan Service and head of the service’s Kosovo Unit. She joined RFE/RL in 1999 as a Pristina-based political affairs correspondent, becoming chief of the ethnically diverse Pristina bureau in 2001, during the volatile inter-ethnic tensions that followed the 1999 war in Kosovo. In June 2011, Vidishiqi was appointed head of the Kosovo unit. A 1994 graduate of Hendon College, London with a degree in communications and technology, Vidishiqi is a native Albanian speaker and is fluent in English and south Slavic languages.

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