International community reacts following the voting of the Prespa agreement by Parliament

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was the first one to congratulate MPs for the voting of the constitutional amendments which give way to the approval of the new country’s name, “Republic of North Macedonia”, based on the Prespa agreement.

“Our journey toward the EU and NATO has just started. We still have a lot  of work to do in order to make this journey shorter”, Zaev said.

On the other hand, the leader of the largest party, VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickoski said that this is the saddest day for the country, while announcing that all the MPs who voted in favour of these amendments were expelled from the party.

Meanwhile, a number of international figures have also praised the parliament’s decision. NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg posted on Twitter that the government and political leaders should finalize this process which guarantees the country’s future in the NATO.

“I welcome the vote by parliament in Skopje on the proposed constitutional changes. It’s up to the government and political leaders to complete national procedures on the name agreement and seize this historic opportunity to bring the country into NATO”, Stoltenberg posted on Twitter.

 EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn welcomed in a joint statement the Parliament’s decision to initiate constitutional changes towards implementation of the Prespa Agreement.

“Today, the Parliament took a very important step towards the implementation of the Prespa agreement through the vote launching the constitutional changes procedure. We now expect the national procedures for the implementation of the agreement to continue without any delays, towards the adoption of the constitutional changes,” say Mogherini and Hahn in the statement.

They add that the European Union strongly supports the historic agreement signed by Prime Ministers Zaev and Tsipras in June.

“It took political courage, leadership and responsibility to resolve one of the oldest disputes in the region. This determination was confirmed with the vote today. This is a truly unique opportunity for decisively moving the country forward on its European Union path as well as for reconciliation in the region. The European Union will continue to fully support and accompany the country, all its citizens and its institutions,” reads the joint statement.

Former Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias also reacted to the voting in favor of constitutional changes.

Today is a day of joy for the incoming and the outgoing foreign minister of Greece following Friday’s outcome of the vote in the Macedonian Parliament over the initiative for constitutional revision. Despite the resignation, outgoing Foreign Minister Nikoa Kotzias and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said they are happy.

The handover of the post from Kotzias to PM Tsipras, who will also take over the post of FM, took place in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday.

In their remarks, both referred to the Greek foreign policy, including the name issue and the Prespa Agreement.

“I am the happiest outgoing foreign minister,” Kotzias told reporters when arriving to the event.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has congratulated Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev on the Parliament’s vote to endorse the motion for constitutional changes towards implementation of the Prespa Agreement.

“Happy birthday to the Republic of North Macedonia. Heartfelt congratulations to Zoran Zaev and to everyone who fought for this historical moment. Today a new door to the future has opened for our two peoples in the Republic of North Macedonia. Respect,” tweeted Rama in English and Albanian.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has welcomed the agreement reached in the Macedonian Parliament that enabled the two-thirds majority required for endorsement of a decision to initiate constitutional revision arising from the Prespa Agreement.

“This gives strong wind in the back of the efforts to start the EU accession talks with North Macedonia next year,” says Kurz.

He adds that approximation of the Western Balkans to the EU is an important priority of the Austrian EU Presidency, saying the Union will be complete only after these countries join.

European Council President Donald Tusk has congratulated Macedonia for the endorsement of the constitutional revision, saying the country is a step closer to the Euro-Atlantic community.

“One vote, one step closer to assuming your deserved spot in our transatlantic community,” tweeted Tusk in Macedonian.

 Ivo Vajgl, Macedonia Rapporteur in the European Parliament, has welcomed the unity in the Macedonian Parliament that opens the EU and NATO path, MIA reports from Brussels.

Vajgl says the decision was dramatic and close, but “MPs have protected the vital interests of the Macedonian citizens.”

“A special acknowledgment for the opposition MPs who have undertaken the responsibility, despite pressure and threats from their party, to support their country’s European and Euro-Atlantic future,” says Vajgl.

According to him, Macedonia’s EU accession will contribute to the stability of Southeast Europe.

“It will be important in the coming weeks and months for political leaders in Macedonia to walk decisively on the path of reconciliation, while partisan interest to focus on a common goal – Euro-Atlantic membership,” notes MEP Vajgl.

Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office, has welcomed last night’s vote in the Macedonian Parliament over the initiative for constitutional revision.

“Great news! Statesmanship wins over party games! The Macedonian Parliament voted with 2/3 majority for the Prespa Agreement. A huge step forward towards EU and NATO. Congratulations to Zoran Zaev, Nikola Dimitrov, Bujar Osmani and all Macedonian friends,” tweeted Roth.

 United States Ambassador Jess Baily has congratulated the Parliament on endorsing the initiative for constitutional revision arising from the Prespa Agreement.

“Congratulations to Macedonia’s parliament on voting to initiate constitutional amendments as called for in Prespa Agreement. MPs across parties showed courage and leadership by joining together to help secure Macedonia’s place in the West, in NATO, and in the EU,” Baily wrote in a post at the U.S. Embassy Facebook page.