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>> One vote in Macedonia on Sunday may signal a pivot for that country closer to the West or keep it closer to Russia. But it wouldn't look that way on the surface. They're voting on whether to change the country's name from Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia.
All part of deal with their neighbor Greece to open a path to membership in NATO and the European Union, something Russia does not want. Reuters Ivana Sekularac.
>> Kremlin opposes EU and NATO enlargement into the Balkans because Russia's a traditional orthodox allies are Macedonians and Serbs and Montenegrins, they have historical ties. So it would give Russia less influence in the region in general.>> Greece is a NATO and EU member, but until June had been blocking Macedonia because of the Greek province of Macedonia.
There can't be two Macedonias they say, that's cultural appropriation. They also argue that it could imply territorial claims over the Greek province. So, the Macedonia government called a referendum with one question. Are you for or against EU and NATO membership through implementation of the name deal? It's an extremely divisive issue.
It's not that only around 50% of people plan to vote in the country of just two million, and many plan to boycott the referendum. And critics say the boycott campaign has used social media to spread fake news. Sunday's vote's expected to remain peaceful. And polls suggest that a majority of people who will vote will support the name deal and the NATO bid.
But even if a referendum yes emerges, that may not settle the matter. Athens still might not go along with it because of divisions in the Greek government.