Macedonia enters final stages of NATO membership bid
February 06 2019 01:01 PM


NATO will to open its doors to Macedonia on Wednesday by signing an accession protocol with the south-east European state, after the country settled a years-long dispute with neighbouring Greece, a member of the military alliance.

The move will allow Macedonia to participate in NATO meetings as an observer until all allies ratify the accession protocol. At this point, it will become NATO's 30th member.

The former Yugoslav republic agreed last year, following lengthy negotiations, to change its name to North Macedonia, in order to distinguish it from the ancient northern Greek province of Macedonia.

The dispute dates back to the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in 1991. From then on, Athens blocked Skopje from NATO and EU membership talks.

Wednesday's ceremony will be attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and representatives of the 29 NATO allies.

Greece is expected to be the first country to ratify Macedonia's accession protocol, a move that is expected in the coming days, according to information out of Athens.

After that, Macedonia will formally and finally change its name to North Macedonia.

There are other steps Skopje promised to take during a transition period; among others, to make clear that Hellenic style monuments in Skopje it built over the past dozen years for nearly 1 billion dollars do not mean it claims the ancient Hellenic legacy.

Russia is highly critical of NATO's eastward expansion, viewing it as a direct threat to its security.

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