Former President, Prime Minister and SDSM leader Branko Crvenkovski raised eyebrows in the Zaev Government during the conference he held in Skopje on Tuesday, where he used Macedonia, Republic of Macedonia and Macedonian instead of North Macedonia.

It was a rare public event for Crvenkovski who has kept a low profile after his term ended in 2009, and he lost the 2011 general elections and left the party over to Zoran Zaev. He brought several other former Balkan leaders, such as Jadranka Kosor and Filip Vujanovic at an event where they urged the further integration of the Balkans into the EU. Crvenkovski called on the EU to open accession talks with Macedonia, and never once used the adjective “North”, which the Zaev Government is imposing on the country.

A failure to approve a date to open accession talks will create great disappointment and will seriously undermine the EU credibility and the credibility of the Macedonian Government in the eyes of the Macedonian people and all the citizens of our country, Crvenkovski said, before adding that the Prespa treaty was a painful and dramatic concession which was made specifically in order to unblock the EU accession.

Crvenkovski also acknowledged that a large number of Macedonian citizens rejected the name change at the referendum. The vote failed with a turnout of mere 36 percent, far short than the 50 percent which were required to make it valid, but Zaev went on with the renaming and redefining of Macedonia anyway. In the latter stages of his political career, the former SDSM leader insisted that Macedonia must make a deal with Greece, but he did not endorse the Prespa treaty.