Albania politicians join forces to approve Macedonia NATO membership

Tirana, Albania | 13 Feb 2019 – Albania’s majority and opposition members of parliament have joined votes to unanimously approve a project-law opening the way for the formal parliamentary approval of North Macedonia’s membership into NATO.

The vote at Albania’s Parliamentary Committee on National Security comes days after NATO Allies signed the Accession Protocol for North Macedonia in Brussels. Following the meeting in Brussels and after holding up its admission for years, Greece became the first nation Friday to ratify Macedonia’s membership of NATO, after the two states resolved a decades-old name dispute last month.

This is an important moment not only for North Macedonia, but also for Albania, as free countries and part of Balkan countries , which choose which alliance to be part of,” said the committee’s chair Ermonela Felaj.

Felaj also confirmed that during next Thursday’s plenary in Albania’s Parliament, Tirana’s vote will be greeted by a special address from Macedonian Speaker of Parliament Talat Xhaferri.

Speaking in front of the National Security Committee in Tirana, Foreign Ministry Treaty Director Armand Skapi said that North Macedonia has traveled a long way towards its NATO and that its membership “directly affects the strengthening of security across the Euro-Atlantic geographic space and especially in the Western Balkans, while benefiting bilateral neighborly relations with Albania.

Opposition members of parliament temporarily abandoned their typical obstructive engagement across parliamentary activity and joined their votes in favor of North Macedonia’s NATO accession.

Macedonia’s membership has been blocked over the past 28 years due to a name dispute with its southern neighbor Greece, which claims the name of ‘Macedonia’ and its historical connotation for its northern region.

Following intense negotiations between Skopje and Athens, both countries have now agreed to a name change for the former Yugoslav republic (FYROM) into North Macedonia, clearing the way for the Euro-Atlantic integration of the small Balkans state.

Last year, the European Commission recommended opening accession talks for Macedonia to join the EU, a scenario which looks more feasible following the landmark agreement between Athens and Skopje.

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