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Macedonia’s leaders spar over name deal on national holiday

August 2, 2018

FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2017 file photo, Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, left, presents to President Gjorge Ivanov, right, the signatures from lawmakers to form a new government, in the capital, Skopje. Macedonia’s prime minister and president have sparred Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, on the country’s national holiday, over a deal to settle a dispute with neighboring Greece and rename Macedonia “North Macedonia.” On the 115th anniversary of a failed rebellion against Ottoman Turkey, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev urged Macedonians to support the agreement in a Sept. 30 referendum. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, File)

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia’s national holiday hasn’t given the prime minister and president a day off from disagreeing about a deal to rename the country North Macedonia.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev urged Macedonians on Thursday — the 115th anniversary of a failed rebellion against Ottoman Turkey — to support the agreement with Greece in a Sept. 30 referendum.

The deal would clear the way for Macedonia to start membership talks with NATO and the European Union. Zaev says the opportunity shouldn’t be squandered.

President Gjorge Ivanov is refusing to sign off on the deal, which Macedonian lawmakers ratified last month.

Ivanov says it would “delete” Macedonia’s 27-year history as an independent nation.

Greece has long objected to its northern neighbor being called Macedonia, the name of one of its provinces.

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