Macedonia leader says country ready for ‘historic moment’

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) – The prime minister of Macedonia has told European lawmakers that his country is ready to grasp its “historic moment” and change its name – a move that pave the way to NATO membership.

Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday, Zaev thanked lawmakers for their support ahead of the Sept. 30 referendum on changing the republic’s name to “North Macedonia.” A vote in favor would end a long-standing name dispute with Greece and allow it to join NATO.

Western leaders have expressed strong backing for Zaev’s campaign.

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell plan to be in Macedonia Thursday and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected at the weekend.

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