On December 18, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan visited Skopje, the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) where he “reaffirmed with President Gjorge Ivanov the United States’ continued support of the landmark Prespa Agreement”, according to a State Department press release.
“The two also agreed on the need to implement key reforms required by NATO and the EU, including crucial judiciary reforms,” the document said.
The Prespa Agreement reached by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and FYROM counterpart Zoran Zaev in June aims to solve “issues”, which prevent the FYROM from joining the NATO and the EU.
Under the agreement, the FYROM would add “North” to its current name [Republic of Macedonia] in exchange for Athens’ promise to stop blocking the Balkan state from joining NATO and the EU. Commenting on the situation Sullivan also claimed that it was “no secret” that Russia had tried to undermine the deal.
Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan met @Dimitrov_Nikola to discuss the excellent cooperation between our countries. D/S Sullivan praised #Macedonia’s progress towards implementing the Prespa Agreement, which paves the way for #Macedonia’s @NATO membership. pic.twitter.com/ZX0GTX3qLL
— US Embassy Macedonia (@usembassymkd) December 18, 2018
On December 21, the Russian Foreign Ministry released an official comment on the accusations. The foreign ministry said that the US had intervened in the domestic politics of the FYROM to enforce the “inadequate” agreement. It said that Washington is trying to justify its “unjustifiable interference” in FYROM’s domestic affairs and legitimize “the inadequate Prespes Agreement” in order to lead another Balkan country to NATO.
The Russian side also recalled that the September 18 FYROM referendum, when voters were asked whether they support EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement struck between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece in June 2018. The vote in support of the EU and NATO ultimately failed on a constitutional ground because the turnout of eligible voters was not over 50 percent.
Furthermore, the foreign ministry pointed out that a US ambassador was in the building of the FYROM’s Parliament on October 19 when the Parliament voted in favour on constitutional changes to the country’s current name. The statement said that the voting process was accompanied with manipulations, bribery and blackmail.