A State Department spokesman told VOA – Macedonian that the recently announced sanctions against people undermining the Prespa treaty will not apply to individual citizens who are critical of the treaty.

The spokesman said that the intent of the United States is not to prevent private citizens from expressing their opinions. The Prespa treaty was not accepted by the citizens in the 2018 referendum – barely 36 percent of the citizens voted – the majority boycotting the referendum in protest. Despite this, the treaty was rammed through Parliament, with the Zaev regime exerting pressure on members of Parliament, including politically motivated trials and persecutions to get them to vote for the name change. The imposed name “North Macedonia” is widely ignored in the public, while the Zaev regime is using it in official communication.

US President Joe Biden recently expanded an existing order for sanctions in the Balkans, which already names the 2001 Ohrid peace treaty, to allow sanctions against those undermining the Prespa treaty as well. VOA reports that this will apply to entities in Greece as well, where the citizens were not given the right to a referendum, and the conservative New Democracy party opposed the treaty, but now largely implements it.

The VMRO-DPMNE party has stated it wans to revise the treaty if it achieves a two-thirds majority in Parliament for this purpose.