Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Zoran Zaev has emphasized the economic benefits of a “yes” vote in the upcoming referendum on the new name for Macedonia. Mr. Zaev says that trade with Greece is going to increase by factor of two, citing two legal articles that provide specific ways to boost economic cooperation with Athens once a solution to the naming dispute is found and implemented.
The leadership wants to achieve a high turnout due to concerns that if it is less than half of the voting population, it may undermine a positive result. Mr. Zaev is keen on boosting business ties with Greece, which he called “an excellent market”. “We, as a country, I believe we will reap the benefits from the deal with Greece, as it’s a fair solution with political impact,” Mr. Zaev explained. Greece is the third biggest trade partner and the second largest investor in FYROM.
“Being a partner of Greece means to be a partner of a regional power,” President of the Economic Chamber of FYROM Branko Azeski commented. “Our member companies create 90% of the country’s GDP and 95% of the economy’s profits and employ 92% of the industry’s employees […] As all the other countries in the region have their own partners, I think my country must have Greece,” he added. In Mr. Azeski’s opinion, Athens is the partner that will protect his country’s interests. “If Greece and Serbia have a 4% GDP growth, then our country without doing anything will have at least a 2% increase. It is in our interest that Serbia and Greece develop,” he explained.