Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Macedonia's NATO Journey Not Over Yet, Experts Warn

Greece Ratifies Macedonia’s NATO Protocol Greek parliament ratifies NATO accord with Republic of North Macedonia
Deanna Wagner | 10 February, 2019, 21:42

"Today's vote closes the most important round of obligations involving Greece", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told parliament ahead of the vote.

Macedonia took a major step towards full NATO membership on Wednesday, when NATO state ministers in Brussels signed its accession protocol- enabling it to become the club's 30th member under its new name, Republic of North Macedonia.

A majority of 153 lawmakers supported the legislation, while 140 voted against.

The vote came after the former Yugoslav republic agreed with Greece a year ago to change its name to North Macedonia and following ratification of the deal by the countries' parliaments.

Negotiations between Greece and Macedonia were protracted and hard.

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Under NATO alliance rules, Macedonian membership now has to be approved by each member state, giving Greek lawmakers the opportunity for another round of verbal jousting over the controversy. I feel we have done our patriotic duty, amid threats and blackmails. Moscow had taken a dim view of the name accord, and of Macedonian membership in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Both Greek and Macedonian parliaments have agreed to rename the country the Republic of North Macedonia, ending Athens' veto of its neighbour's efforts to join NATO and the EU.

Opposition parliamentarians argued that Greece had given too many concessions to soon-to-be North Macedonia, including a vow not to oppose its proposed NATO membership.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union believe Macedonia's membership will enhance stability in the Balkans, while the alliance's expansion into the region has been opposed by Russian Federation.