“GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Macedonia to embrace a deal with Greece over the country’s name in order to secure membership to both the European Union and NATO.

Macedonia has set a deadline of September 30 for the referendum on both membership bids and a deal with Greece to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

Following a meeting with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in the capital of Skopje on Saturday, Ms Merkel said the two issues were ‘very closely linked.’

She told reporters: ‘Without a solution to this name question, the other two things can’t happen.’

Mr Zaev said Ms Merkel’s visit to the Macedonian capital sent ‘a strong message and encouragement’ to the country’s people ahead of the referendum ‘to decide their future.’” (Express)

“NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Macedonians on Thursday to vote in a referendum to embrace a deal on its name with neighboring Greece and join the defense alliance.

‘We are ready to welcome your country as NATO’s 30th member,’ he said after meeting Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.” (Reuters)

“During a visit to Skopje, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson has voiced support for Macedonia’s upcoming referendum over former Yugoslav republic’s official name change.

‘In the end, this is their decision. It is really Macedonians’ decision, which is again, let me emphasize: please, get out and exercise your right to vote, and let your leaders know exactly where you stand on this issue,’ Johnson said in the Macedonian capital on September 9 after arriving from neighboring Greece.

‘A very strong turnout is probably the best thing that you can do to support your nation and its ascension into NATO,’ said Johnson, who heads the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs as well as its Subcommittee on European and Regional Security Cooperation.” (RFE/RL)

“The Macedonian government was forced to apologise to Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz on Friday after the wrong flag was raised in front of the government headquarters in Skoplje.

Austrian reporters noticed that the Latvian flag had been raised instead of Austria’s.

‘The government of the Republic of Macedonia apologises to the Republic of Austria for the unintentional protocol error during the visit by Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz to Macedonia,’ a government statement said, adding that the flags of the two countries were of similar dimensions and colour.” (N1)

“Greek police have fired tear gas at protesters furious at a deal to allow the country north of its borders to call itself the Republic of North Macedonia.

People wearing gas masks hurled stones at riot police in the city of Thessaloniki, where prime minister and Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras later spoke about his plans for the economy.

Many Greeks, backed by right-wing nationalist politicians, say only the northern Greek region of Macedonia should be able to use the name and not the former Yugoslav state, which is currently known as Fyrom (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).” (Independent)

“Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has sent greetings to Macedonia President Gjorge Ivanov as the country celebrates the national holiday – the Independence Day, BelTA learned from the press service of the Belarusian leader.

‘Belarus is interested in enhancing interstate dialogue with Macedonia and the dynamic development of bilateral cooperation. I am sure that the expansion of the mutually beneficial relationship is in the best interests of our countries,’ the message reads.” (Belta)