French President Emmanuel Macron was a reluctant supporter of the Prespa treaty. Unlike Merkel, May, Mogherini and James Mattis, in 2018 did not come to Macedonia to call on the public to vote in favor of the “new name”. Macron sent out a video message, and even that only days before the referendum, and it was noticeably less enthusiastic and generous in its promises than what was said by other EU leaders.
But, his call was clearly in favor of adopting “North” Macedonia as the new name of the country.
A big step forward was made on July 17th 2018 (the signing in Prespa). this was done by the courage of your leaderts, of your country and of Greece, to put an end to a dispute lasting 27 years. The so-called Prespa treaty enables prosperity and preparation for the future. The referendum question on September 30th is about that treaty. I’m here because I believe in our continent, in the power of Europe, of collective wisdom and cooperation and I would like to tell you what I believe in. I know that no treaty is perfect, I hear all the criticism, but we’ve waited for this treaty for 27 years. It was reached because of the courage of your leaders and I support it. In full! Strongly!, Macron said.]
The referendum eventually failed, as only 36 percent of the citizens voted, and even that number was reached with significant ballot stuffing. But the name change was imposed anyway, through arrests and pressures aimed at members of Parliament who were eventually forced to support it.