According to Reuters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Macedonians to embrace a deal with Greece over the country’s name at a referendum later this month, in order to secure membership of NATO and European Union.

Macedonia has set Sept. 30 for the referendum on both the membership bids and its agreement with Greece to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

After meeting with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in Skopje on Saturday, Merkel said the issues were “very closely linked”.

“Without a solution to this (name) question, the other two things can’t happen,” she told journalists.

Macedonian nationalists, including President Gjorge Ivanov, oppose the deal however, saying it is against the constitution.

Zaev said Merkel’s visit sent “a strong message and encouragement” to citizens ahead of the referendum “to decide their future.”