U.S. Diplomat To Meet Leaders In North Macedonia On NATO, Other Issues
By RFE/RL July 21, 2019
WASHINGTON -- A top U.S. diplomat is visiting North Macedonia to meet with government, civil society, and business leaders, the State Department says.
Philip Reeker, the assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, will also visit Greece during his trip, set for July 21-27.
North Macedonia's path to membership in both the EU and NATO was cleared after Skopje reached agreement with Greece over the former Yugoslav republic's official name.
Athens had opposed the use of the moniker "Macedonia," asserting that it indicated territorial ambitions over Greece's province of the same name, and Skopje agreed to change its name to North Macedonia.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a recent visit to Skopje that the Western military alliance was "ready to welcome" the country as its 30th member.
Meanwhile, North Macedonia's bid to join the EU has come up against some opposition from current members, including France and the Netherlands, over concerns that governmental standards and the fight against corruption is not up to European levels.
The State Department said Reeker will meet in Skopje with President Stevo Pendarovski, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, and other government leaders to discuss bilateral issues and North Macedonia's "path to NATO and EU membership."
Reeker is also scheduled to hold meetings with members of parliament, opposition party members, and local government representatives, said the State Department, which did not provide a specific itinerary for the visit to the two countries.
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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