Brussels, Belgium | July 12 (Tirana Echo) – NATO leaders have decided to formally invite Macedonia to join the Alliance pending on a national referendum which would approve an historic deal with Greece over a name change for the small Balkan country.
Under the deal with Athens, the country which calls itself Macedonia and which is internationally recognized as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), would be renamed to Republic of North Macedonia, breaking a decade of deadlock of Euro-Atlantic integration for the former Yugoslav republic which was previously blocked by Greece.
A joint statement after NATO’s summit in Brussels said the members “have decided to invite the government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join our alliance,”.
The invitation to being accession talks, comes weeks after Macedonia’s new social-democratic prime minister Zoran Zaev agreed with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras to move forward with a new name for the country, thus removing any Greek suspicion that its northern neighbor may have territorial claims over its northern region which is also called Macedonia.
With Macedonia’s membership, NATO closes in its borders in the Balkans further sealing its presence in a region where Russian interests are at play. Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania are all NATO members, and the Western Alliance is already present in Kosovo, leaving only Serbia as Russia’s hand in the region.
Political analysts expect Moscow to undermine the deal which would further delay Macedonia’s de-facto membership into NATO.
The 2m small Balkan country already provides valuable support to NATO-led operations and missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
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