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EU Congratulates Macedonia On Failed Referendum

8 November 2004 -- Javier Solana, the European Union foreign-policy chief, today congratulated Macedonians for largely ignoring a referendum on reversing ethnic power-sharing legislation, declaring the outcome a boost for their drive to join the EU.

Results from yesterday's voting showed the government's tactic of boycotting the referendum had worked. Only 26 percent of the country's eligible voters turned out, while 50 percent turnout was needed for the outcome to be valid.

The referendum had asked Macedonians whether they would back revoking an internationally brokered plan -- already passed by parliament -- to redraw local boundaries to give the country's 25 percent Albanian minority greater local powers. The plan was part of a solution to ending months of clashes between government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels in 2001.

Todor Petrov of the opposition Macedonian World Congress today said he and other opposition groups will appeal the results.