Press Release on the Referendum on the Name Agreement between Skopje and Athens

by JEF Europe, JEF Macedonia, and JEF Greece,

As Young European Federalists we stand for a democratic European federation as a crucial ingredient for peace and a guarantee for a more free, just and democratic society. In that light, the Young European Federalists - Europe (JEF Europe), Young European Federalists – Macedonia (JEF Macedonia), and Young European Federalists of Greece (JEF Greece) welcome the Name Agreement between the governments in Skopje and Athens, aimed at resolving an almost three-decade-long name dispute between the two countries. If ratified and approved, the Agreement opens perspectives for normalisation of the neighbourly relations between Skopje and Athens and allows the two countries to cooperate in almost every domain – conducive for regional stability, peace, and reconciliation. This historical peace achievement will serve as a model of dispute resolution and sustainable cooperation in the 21st century and will prove Athens’ and Skopje’s bearings as pioneers for stability, peace and reconciliation in the Balkans and in South-Eastern Europe. The Agreement paves the way for the latter’s successful integration in the European Union, which represents one of its key strategic priorities, supported by a majority of citizens in both countries. Skopje’s membership in the European Union is important for the realisation of the expansion of the European Union to the Western Balkan States and for the ultimate idea of Federal Europe. The entire Balkan region, and all its peoples, belong to one united European family.

We call on the authorities of the two countries to implement the Agreement accordingly while keeping the spirit of good neighbourly relations at its core. What is more, we call upon the electorate to exercise their right, but also their duty to vote and support the Name Agreement in the upcoming referendum to be held on the 30th September 2018. The Name Agreement referendum is a historic and a genuine chance to ensure the region’s financial growth, its future membership within the European family and its complete integration in the international community.

At the same time, we strongly oppose the activities and illegitimate interventions of all those forces within the two countries and beyond, aiming at undermining the chance to implement this Agreement by misguiding the population on its content and impact and consequently encouraging the continuance of cross-border disputes. This historic moment requires all involved parties to be responsible and reasonable and to adhere to their respective Constitutions and all the principles of international law. The social and political forces of both countries need to put an end to pointless and meaningless divisions, culture of distrust, nationalist and irredentist rhetoric and the language of hatred in view of increased solidarity within Europe.

History cannot be changed or erased but a common and better future is possible and can be built by the joint forces. Citizens in both countries, present and future European citizens, deserve a better and shared future based on peace, cooperation, solidarity, and mutual respect.