BRUSSELS: The European Union urged all sides to respect the result of Sunday's referendum in Macedonia that overwhelmingly chose to rename the country and clear the way to accession to NATO and the EU.
"I congratulate those citizens who voted in today's consultative referendum and made use of their democratic freedoms," EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a statement.
"I now expect all political leaders to respect this decision and take it forward with utmost responsibility and unity across party lines, in the interest of the country," he said.
According to the official count, with ballots from 43 percent of polling stations counted, 90.72 percent of votes were in favour of the name changing to North Macedonia.
The name change to Republic of North Macedonia, agreed with Athens in the so-called Prespa deal, would resolve a long-standing dispute with EU-member Greece, which claims the name Macedonia for its own northern province.
"With the very significant 'yes' vote, there is broad support for the Prespa Agreement and for the country's Euroatlantic path," Hahn said.
He did not however refer to the vote's extremely low turnout, in which only a third of the electorate voted.