The opposition United Macedonia party has high hopes that Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov will keep his promise not to attend the upcoming referendum on the bilateral deal with Greece on the country’s renaming, party president Janko Bachev told sources on Tuesday.
According to Sputnik news, Bachev said: "The statement given by President Ivanov that he will not vote in the referendum on September 30 is the only right answer, and it is in line with the highest Macedonian national and state interests.”
The party president voiced hope that the Macedonian president would "withstand the pressure" and would not change his mind before the referendum.
"Now we are left with a hope that Ivanov will not repeat what he did in May 2017, when he gave the mandate to [Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran] Zaev to form the puppet government," Bachev underscored, and went on to say that his party has been campaigning against the referendum for the last 20 days.
Asked about the possibility of holding demonstrations ahead of the referendum, Bachev noted there was no need for any larger protests "unless something dramatic happens in the next five days."
"But we are planning a big celebration on September 30… We are fighting for the survival of our nation. Our fight is a sacred responsibility and that’s why Macedonia will win," Bachev pointed out.
Bachev addressed an announcement President Ivanov made last week, stating that he would boycott the referendum scheduled to take place on September 30, calling on his compatriots to do the same. According to the source, Ivanov has been consistently opposing the deal, saying that it not only changes the name of the country but also creates a "new semi-sovereign state … with a new internal and international legal identity."
In early August, a group of about 30 civic associations, political parties, and NGOs, led by United Macedonia, launched a campaign for boycotting the name deal referendum. The so-called crisis headquarters is now made up of more than 70 organizations, political parties, and patriotic movements, according to the party's head.