Macedonia's constitutional court has rejected two bids to declare illegal and unconstitutional the upcoming referendum on renaming the country "North Macedonia."
The vote on Sept. 30 has been hailed by western officials as a major chance for the small Balkan country to launch the process of joining NATO and the European Union.
Judges voted 7-2 on Wednesday to reject the two bids, filed by the World Macedonian Congress, a Skopje-based diaspora group, and the small, left-wing Levitsa party.
Renaming Macedonia is a key element of a deal with neighboring Greece to end a decades-old dispute. Greece says Macedonia's current name implies claims on its own northern province of Macedonia, and on its ancient heritage.
If the deal goes ahead, Greece will lift objections to Macedonia joining NATO and the EU.