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The Permanent Representatives of the 29 NATO member states have just signed the Accession Protocol for the membership of the future “Republic of North Macedonia”. The signing ceremony took place in Brussels on 6 February in the presence of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov. Once all Allies have ratified the Protocol, North Macedonia will become the 30th member of the Alliance while NATO is going to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

Speaking to the media, the NATO Secretary General congratulated Skopje and Athens for their commitment in reaching an agreement on the name issue. Addressing Foreign Minister Dimitrov directly, he said: “Membership will give you a seat at the North Atlantic Council. You will have an equal voice in shaping the decisions we take as Allies.”

With North Macedonia joining NATO, there will be 30 countries committed to protect each other. Political observers assume that the accession will bring more stability to the Western Balkans.

Mr Stoltenberg stated that North Macedonia will participate in all NATO meetings as an “invitee” from now on. NATO is pleased to welcome Defence Minister Radmilla Shekerinska in Brussels and to invite Prime Minister Zaev to the next NATO Summit Meeting. The Secretary General announced that the next high-level meeting with the Heads of State and Government of all NATO member states will take place in London in December 2019. That’s not a coincidence: The British capital was the first Headquarters of the Atlantic Alliance back in 1949.

Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov called the signing of the Accession Protocol “a historic day”. He acknowledged the political leadership of his Prime Minister Zaev and of the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras.

Mr Dimitrov explained how difficult it was to find a political solution with Greece:“It was easier not to do this, so by no means this historic reconciliation was inevitable, it was not even likely. It was easier to sit in the trenches of history. It was easier to even score political points by maintaining the dispute, but what they dared to do was invest political capital for the benefit of the two peoples of the two nations and the whole region and NATO as a family, as an alliance.”

In a next step, the Parliaments of all 29 NATO member states have to ratify the Accession Protocol. Once this is done, North Macedonia will stand beside the other 29 Allies, ready to assume its obligations arising from a full membership in NATO.

Looking at the political and security environment on the Balkans, Foreign Minister Dimitrov said: “NATO is about making the world more peaceful, more stable. We will do our part when it comes to NATO missions and we will also do everything that we can to make sure that our region, south eastern Europe or the Balkans, is a region that is more predictable, more stable and more prosperous.”

Dr. Theodor Benien

 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (right) and Foreign Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov (left) welcomed the signing of the Accession Protocol (Photo: NATO)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (right) and Foreign Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov (left) welcomed the signing of the Accession Protocol (Photo: NATO)

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