our top story. croatia has beaten england 2—1 in the world cup semifinal. they are now through to the final where they'll play france in moscow on sunday. this is the moment croatia scored the winning second goal. earlier on, england scored in the fifth minute and led for more than an houruntil croatia equalised. rescue workers are searching for 70 people missing in floods in western japan. the death toll has reached 179 and more than 8.5 million people are being evacuated. and this video is trending on bbc.com. the first images have emerged from the hospital where 12 thai boys and their football coach are being treated after their remarkable rescue from a flooded cave. new details about the rescue operation have also been released. now on bbc news, hardtalk.
welcome to hardtalk, with me, zeinab badawi. for nearly three decades, the former yugoslav republic of macedonia has been locked in a bitter dispute with neighbouring greece over its name. there is a greek province called macedonia. well, last month, the two countries signed a historic accord to change the name of this small balkan state to the republic of north macedonia, subject to a referendum. the agreement paves the way for macedonia tojoin the european union and nato. this would be a welcome step for a country that is one of the poorest in europe. but challenges from nationalist hardliners, the opposition and the president signal stormy times ahead for the social democratic government. my guest is the prime minister, zoran zaev. does he have what it takes to change hearts and minds, and set his country on a path of greater prosperity? prime minister zoran zaev,
welcome to hardtalk. thank you, thank you very much. you have said that you will resign if the name change is not approved, and the name change is not approved in a referendum this autumn. why is it a resigning matter for you? it is important to encourage our citizens to reach a turnout of 50% for the referendum, because it is a historical referendum for us. finally, after 27 yea rs of our independence, we must decide what kind of future we hope for, and we will support that kind of future. i believe that more than 70% of our citizens will be in favour.
are you sure that? yes, i am very sure. how can you be? the vote has not happened yet. for example, polls show that more than 75% of our citizens are in favour. more than 70% of our citizens believe that this question should have been solved later on, or now is a good moment, and more than 75% will go for a referendum and vote. it is in your nature, of course, to be optimistic, because you are backing this change. but when you look at what happened in the elections in 2016, the now—opposition vmro got actually more votes than you did, and they are opposed to this change. they say it is unconstitutional and illegal. that is going to present you with a major headache, isn't it? they blame us, that we do an unconstitutional and illegal signing of the agreement with greece. at the moment, that is the theory. but there is the signature of our minister of foreign affairs, nikola dimitrov. but there will be a referendum, we will vote. after that, greece will ratify in the parliament, and then the agreement will be active.
that is what you hope. you have a long way before you get there. president ivanov is refusing to sign the agreement into law, even if it is approved in a referendum. and he, of course, is from the opposition vmro, right—of—centre party. ivanov invites a new rule. it is not useful in our constitution, because after they first refuse to sign the agreement, after voting in parliament, the parliament need to vote again. and now it has happened to refuse for the second time to sign the agreement, because with the agreement, signing into law the ratification of the agreement means the active agreement, and preparing the referendum. and the referendum is due to take place this autumn. yes, this autumn. we plan the end of september, beginning at october. we will decide together, in the parliament, always. but you know the issue, of course,
is one that arouses tremendous passions, not only in parliament, but also in the country. and nationalists have accused you of being a traitor, and your government — "traitors, traitors." we are seeing the protests in the street. last year, before you became the prime minister, you were attacked by a nationalist mob. i have my scars. you still have the scars there. you see, you are a physical embodiment of the kind of passions that are involved. it's past one year after that. really, our country has changed a lot from this moment. yes, there are opponents of this agreement. they blame me — that i am a traitor to our name, our history, our identity, that kind of thing. i am very happy that finally we have covered our identity issue. part of the agreement is that there is a macedonian language, there is a macedonian ethnicity, et cetera, et cetera. in a very careful way, we recognise each other‘s identity. but also it is a fact that we are not a part of this historical macedonia.
because there is a southern part in greece, in bulgaria, an eastern part in albania, and i think it preserves our identity. finally, the strategic goal ofjoining nato and the european union. but you must be worried about your own safety. i mean, after what happened to you last year before you became prime minister, injune — i mean, you get comments, for example, not related to the violence, but a retired lawyer, vladimir kavadarkov, has accused the government of destroying macedonian self—confidence, dignity, sovereignty and identity. they see you as a sell—out. all these 27 years, we destroy our dignity. there is a lot of frustration because of that. that has happened so much, political crisis, in our country. now we are sitting together
with great britain, with the united states, with germany, in the nato alliance. we have our place. our flag will be there. so we will be equal with the power countries — powerful countries in the world. but i am not afraid about my future. not even my body, but also not even the political future. it's a sensitive question, it's a painful question. but it's preserving a good future for my citizens, and the younger generation, when they come. so you are not scared for your own safety. how did you feel last april, when you were attacked by the mob? as you say, i can see the scars on you. that was the day when we chose talat xhaferi as the president of the parliament. that is the house of democracy, and in every democratic country, and there was a lot of violence. and talat xhaferi is an ethnic albanian, the opposition nationalists. the ex—minister of defence this country, a long period as an mp in the parliament.
he was chosen as the president of the parliament. and the parliamentarian government in that moment opened the doors of the parliament from inside, and put the so—called patriotic organisation to attack us, without assistance of the police. we were there 2.5 hours, but fighting for freedom, democracy and the future of this country. but, you know, the nationalists really do present you, prime minister, with a huge challenge in your country, in macedonia. imean, for example, you have removed some statues of alexander the great, and that has upset many people in your country. i mean, how far are you going to go with removing monuments to alexander the great, who is so important, of course, to this whole debate? one monument — it's not an alexander the great monument. but we removed names of our highways, names of our national airport. changed them. yes, the new name of the highway is friendship. the highway between serbia
and greece and our country, it is friendship, and the new name of our airport is national airport skopje. will you take down the statue of alexander the great in the capital, skopje? and the opposition has said they will rebuild any monuments your "marionette government," as they call it, will remove. it is a matter of taste who has what kinds of monuments, but everything must be by the law. only one monument, in front of the court in skopje, criminal court in skopje, was without permits, and we removed it because it is — its municipality removed it, really, because it is a monument without permits. i mean, a lot of this debate about the name of what is known at the united nations as the former yugoslav republic of macedonia is because of alexander the great.
and the greeks, of course, have got their province of macedonia, and they say alexander the great was born in what is now greek territory, macedonia, we don't want you to have a claim to the name, and so on. it strikes a lot of people as perhaps quite surprising that this fourth—century bc figure could be stoking such passions. the history was the reason why we were stuck in this period of 27 years without our further improvement — like, society globally, generally speaking. finally, learning from the past, we decided to be more focused on the future. it is too much history. let's leave history to the historian guys. they will debate for everything. we are leaders, and we need to preserve the future of our countries.
you mentioned our neighbour countries, and we have problems, since our independence, that stop our citizens from cooperating. but, even on that occasion, we have more thani million visiting from greece, for example. we are 2 million citizens — one more than the i million visiting per year in greece. but there is so much opportunity in front of us. so we do that mostly to improve relations between us and our south neighbour, greece, but also for our integration process, to be finally a member of nato and part of the european union. sure, we have talked about the opposition in your own country. but there is also opposition in greece to this proposed name change, that you should become the republic of north macedonia. the opposition leader, kyriakos mitsotakis, says it is not a good deal, because the greek government has ceded to the neighbouring country something that no previous greek government has agreed to — macedonian ethnicity and macedonian language. it is an unacceptable national concession. you know, it is — the reaction
of the opposition from both countries are copy—paste, completely the same. that is one guarantee that we have in our agreement. there was some kind of alliance, for example, to have a new name, geographical determination, and a name used internationally or domestically. now it has appeared, this identity, reaction from the opposition of greece. but i have tried to inform, to encourage mitsotakis, the leader of the opposition in greece, that we separate out the identity issue. there is hellenic or greece macedonians, and our macedonians, with separate culture, with separate history, of course. and we do that in a very fruitful way, also in a positive way — how to build relations and cooperation in the future. did mitsotakis say anything to you? was he reassured by what you just said to him? he wasn't, was he? no. i am careful, i want to invite him to be positive,
because there will be benefits for him. mitsotakis has said i have well founded suspicions that, under a future government in skopje, not the present one, which appears to have a more moderate profile, a discussion could emerge on the issue of a greater macedonia. so it is not what you do, but what successive governments might do, if they are less moderate than you. greater macedonia — this division, as you say, the southern part is different, and so on, that may alljust go. alexander the great had great macedonia, we have our macedonia. and we want to build a friendship with greece, which doesn't have territorial aspiration. of course, we keep the borders, we protect the borders. we confirm the heritage of the greek citizens, and greek macedonians also. we have only one aspiration — to be on the beautiful beach in greece, in a beautiful island in greece, only to support tourism
in greece, to build a friendship between our two countries. but it is possible, isn't it, notjust given the opposition leader, mitsotakis, but also in the country, there are nationalists also who are not happy with this. and so it is not necessarily a done deal in greece, either. it is a minority. because of that, we are going to a referendum, mainly. to have a democratic... in greece, you must be worried about the nationalist opposition in greece, not just the parliamentary opposition of mitsotakis. i am worried about that. because of that, i talk very earnestly to encourage it, to give it a chance. because there is not a big majority in the parliament in greece who will vote, after our referendum, after our constitutional change. it will remain only for the greek parliament to vote. i am worried about that. of course, i believe that both sides will fulfil their responsibilities. if all this happened, do you think that given
that 137 countries currently recognise your country, known at the un as the former yugoslav republic of macedonia, but they simply refer to you as the republic of macedonia, do you think when... if you become the republic of north macedonia, that people willjust drop the north and call you the republic of macedonia orjust macedonia? our official name will be republic of north macedonia. we will even send a letter to all countries, all 193 members of united nations that there's agreement between us and greece, and the new name for international use will be republic of north macedonia. after that, with every chapter of european union we will be involved in, internal domestic use also. who cares after that, you know, that somebody calls north macedonia or south macedonia? officially we will be north macedonia, everything in the state and official will be related with the new name, it's the part of the agreement, we will confirm the completely of that, everything what is connected with our macedonian identity will be in
line of our identity. so the greek side get hegemonous name, we get hegemonous identity. it is good enough for the both sides and it will only strengthen the friendship between the two countries. all right. all the discussions about your cultural identity, you name and so on, feed into the wider issue of identity in your country, in macedonia. you've been attending this summit of the west balkans here in london to discuss the various ethnic tensions amongst other things that exist in your region. you've got an ethnic albanian population of about 22% of your 2 million people, and there are tensions, aren't there, again, between you and the nationalist opposition. we had conflict between macedonians and albanians in 2001. it's a big conflict, in front of war, civil war even in the society. we passed through this conflict and now
really a lot of things happen from that. but the right nationalistic—oriented government that ruled our country for 11 years before my mandate... that's the vmro, which was in powerfor 11 years. they did huge damage to the country, especially in that matter, because we are multi—ethnical country. we are balkan in a micro picture. besides macedonians, we have 22% albanians. there are turkish population, serbs, romas, vlachs, bosniaks. we are multi—ethnical country. in the moment, we built a concept, one society for all. it's a very positive concept to have all the same rights and same obligation for all citizens in front of institutions, but our president doesn't agree with that. president ivanov is opposed to the law in march the government wanted to present making the official use of the albanian language wider. at the moment, it can only be used if there's a part of macedonia which has got around 20% of albanians.
you want to make it a national language, for example, it could be used in parliament and so on. he said, "nope, i don't like that, i'm not going to sign this bill." he really is with the right orientation, and i believe his feelings to not recognise that we must guarantee the future of this multi—ethnical society. he loses the chance that he had because by the constitution, what was changed after the conflict of 2001, there is the right also for minorities to use all language, and now we give constitutional rights to our minorities, not only for albanians, but also for romas, for serbs, for turks, for everything. we vote in the parliament with 68 votes, for example. that's quite narrow out of 120. it's not a resounding majority, is it? it shows you the strength of opposition to this move because they feel it makes too many concessions to the ethnic albanian minority. yes, ok, it's a democratic debate inside of the
country, we believe, but it's a majority voting. he refused to sign the law and that frustrate our citizens from albanian nationality, and other minorities also. but we hope that our lawyers in the country will find solution, how to put this blockage from the president to the parliament. because we ask ourselves, if the president decide, "our next 107 laws to block," what will be the function of the parliament, for example, in one parliamentary democracy? all these things your government is doing, you'vejust been in power sincejune last year, you know, enhancing minority rights, the name change and so on. as jens stoltenberg, the secretary general of nato, told you injune, "without the finalisation of the name agreement your country cannot join nato in the foreseeable future. this is an historic opportunity that cannot be missed." you agree with all that, so can you start the talks to join nato at the current summit in brussels? or are they saying, "let's wait until you've gone through all these hoops that we've been discussing on the name change." after this interview,
after a few days, i will receive, in the name of my country, the invitation for full membership of nato in brussels. there will be a nato summit. having that in mind, there is a process very equal, like other countries, like montenegro, for example, the last member country of nato, they became a member country of nato in 2015. after invitation, we start accession talks. accession talks are planned to finish injanuary, 2019. until then, we plan to finish also a referendum, constitutional change involving the greek parliament. after this, we start ratification in the member countries‘ parliaments. 0k. and you start your eu accession talks in 2019. but part of the requirements ofjoining the eu is you've got a lot of things to do in your country. you've got to tackle
corruption and patronage. the eu said in november, 2016 that fyr macedonia was a victim of state capture under the former prime minister, nikola gruevski, who was recently sentenced to two years in prison. you have got a lot to do, haven't you, prime minister? yes. we was a divestigated country really, now we try to renew completely. we passed through the first phase ofjudicial reforms. now the second phase is coming. it's been a full process but it's huge. at the moment in the parliament we are debating for free media, media law, that will give more independence and free to the journalists and the media. we are in front of the third stage of the reforms in security system. second stage the security and public administration. there's a lot to do in our country, but as you mentioned, 11 years ago we was a captured state by the old government. now we are really shining factor in the balkans. are you really?
we are a very positive example for everybody. you've got a lot to do, you can't undo 11 years of a system of patronage and so onjust overnight. you've also got the fact that macedonia is a major transit point for international drug—traffickers, particularly heroin from south—west asia going into europe. in december last year, there was a... synthetic drugs were seized from a laboratory in the west of your country. you've really got to tackle also this issue of drug trafficking, haven't you? crime and corruption is one of the first goals for our country. also in that matter, we are a good example in the last year. we catch a lot of un—legal trading with humans, with drugs, with weapons, that kind of things. and we continuing, with the support of our friends, that is the western part of the world, we try to increase our capacity. we leave a space now for the non—government organisations, for civil society to be part of these check and balances so these corrective institutions, who will check the government, for example, like anticorruption, antimonopoly, antidiscriminatory institutions, or public audit office, that kind of institutions will be led by the experts. the us ambassador to macedonia,
jess baily, said in december last year, "your pledges show you're moving in the right direction but a pledge without action is just a piece of paper." i agree. you're making the right sounds, but is there action on the ground? we're making good results, it's not possible after 11 years with just one year to show all necessary things to achieve what our citizens wait. but they agree that we have achieved a lot. you're one of the poorest countries in europe, you've got unemployment at 23%, you've got shocking statistics on health for children from unicef. many of your brightest and best and young emigrate because they want to find a future elsewhere. can you, prime minister, win over hearts and minds and say, "look, there's a future, especially after we've,
you know, agreed the name change and so on, and i can achieve all my objectives, my ambitions?" now with this integration process, with the present moment, integrated in nato, negotiated with the european union, we have a fair chance. we are very far away from the political crisis, and we can be dedicated to the health system, the education system, to openjobs for youth. now the unemployed rate is 21%, was 34%, 37% in the past. we decreased unemployment rate from youth, for example, from 41.6% to 35.2%, for example. it's huge results. it motivates us to continue in that direction. for example, after the agreement with greece and the announcement that we would be invited to be a member of nato, seven companies, big companies, international companies decide to invest in our country. so that is good message for our young people. zoran zaev, thank you very much indeed for coming on hardtalk. it was my pleasure, thank you.
hello there. temperatures dipped a little bit at the start of this week. wednesday was a warm one, and those temperatures are going to continue to rise towards the end of the week. some places could be really quite hot during the course of the weekend. we also had a few showers around. they will tend to fizzle out, but we could start thursday morning with one or two across some western areas, maybe north—west england, in towards wales. there could be quite a muggy start to some of the larger towns and cities across southern
england and southern wales. now, we start thursday, then, on a rather cloudier note. clouds will tend to break up with some sunny spells developing, although the eastern coastal areas remaining a little bit cloudy through the day, and then showers will develop, and we think most of these will be across more western areas. now, some could be quite heavy, particularly across south—western scotland, maybe the western side of england to the west of the pennines, in towards wales and south—west england. and they will be very slow moving, almost stationary. some areas could get quite a lot of rainfall. the ground being so dry could lead to some local flooding, so watch out for that. but be warned, though — where you get the sunshine, especially in the south—east, 26 or 27 celsius. as we hurtle towards friday, looks like the risk of showers and thunderstorms begins to increase, and some of them could be on the heavy side. friday starts off mainly dry, with the sunshine, although there will be showers from the word go across parts of north—west england and southern scotland. these will become more widespread across parts of wales, into the midlands, maybe southern england as well. like i mentioned, some of them could be quite intense,
with the risk of some local flooding. temperature—wise, around 25, maybe 26 celsius, and some eastern coastal areas may hold onto that cool breeze. now, as we head on in towards the weekend, a big area of low pressure will be anchored to the north—west of the uk. this may bring further cloud, maybe outbreaks of rain, to scotland and northern ireland, but it's also going to draw much warmer air from the near continent. so from saturday it's definitely a north—west, south—east split, with outbreaks of rain across the north and west of scotland, maybe into the far north—west of england, as well. much of england and wales, though, dry and sunny. locally hot in places, maybe 28, 29 celsius in the south—east. on sunday it's a similar picture — breezier, with more cloud from northern ireland and western scotland. with outbreaks of rain, could see a few showers pushing into wales, north—west england. but elsewhere, across most of england and eastern wales, a hot day to come. we could see one or two locations in the south—east reaching 30 or 31 celsius. so for the end of the week it looks like we will see an increase of showers and thunderstorms for a time, and then it starts
to hot up as we head on into the weekend. i'm sharanjit leyl in london — the headlines: croatia come from behind to beat england and book their place in the world cup final. they'll play france on sunday. showdown in brussels — as president trump demands nato countries double their defence spending. i'm rico hizon in singapore — also on the programme: dozens are still missing after japan's worst floods in decades. as the search continues — the death toll passes a hundred and seventy. and we're doing fine — first pictures of the rescued thai boys recovering in hospital.