Macedonia & NATO
On 27 March 2020, NATO gained a new member, the Republic of North Macedonia. “The Republic of North Macedonia is officially the new, 30th NATO member,” the government said in a statement. “We have fulfilled the dream of generations.”
President Stevo Pendarovski of North Macedonia signed the instrument of accession on March 20 that would shortly make the country the 30th member of the Western military alliance. The president was able to sign the document after Spain on March 17 became the last alliance member to ratify the membership of the former Yugoslav republic. The Spanish parliament was forced to vote remotely on the membership because of fears of holding a session amid the coronavirus crisis. Following the Spanish parliament's vote, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter that "with that, all allies have welcomed our soon-to-be 30th member. Congratulations, North Macedonia!"
North Macedonia was granted a protocol on accession to NATO membership in February 2019, after a 2018 agreement with Greece that changed the former Yugoslav republic's name from Macedonia, resolving a decades-long dispute between Skopje and Athens. North Macedonia and NATO signed a "historic" pact on 06 February 2019 that opened the door to the Balkan country's full membership in the bloc. Becoming a member of the strongest military alliance in the world was always a question of survival. Internally, it meant stronger ethnic and social cohesion; externally it was a guarantee that its borders are secured from neighboring countries. It was no coincidence that the Macedonian parliament voted on the declaration to join NATO in 1993 — the bloody wars in the other former Yugoslav republics never reached its borders, but the danger was always present.
Once the Greek parliament ratified the Accession Protocol, a "new" country was announced to the world: the Republic of North Macedonia. It took a lot of courage and political will in both Skopje and Athens to solve the name issue that blocked Macedonia's accession in NATO and the EU since 2008.
On 19 May 2016 NATO Foreign Ministers signed the Accession Protocol for Montenegro, marking a historic step in Montenegro’s path to the Alliance. Speaking at a joint press conference with Montenegrin Prime Minister Djukanovic, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg underlined that today’s decision is “a clear sign that NATO’s door remains open for partners that share and promote our values.” Montenegro will participate in all NATO meetings as an observer. Once all Allies have ratified the Protocol, Montenegro will be invited to accede to the Washington Treaty and become the 29th member of the Alliance.
At the April 2009 Strasbourg-Kehl Summit, Allies re-confirmed the commitment to invite Macedonia to join NATO as soon as the name issue is resolved. The accession of the Republic of Macedonia to NATO remains a strategic priority of the foreign policy of the country. The integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures is our aspiration, but also follows as a logical consequence of the achieved progress, in which the country has invested more than a decade.
The Republic of Macedonia has had its commitment to the integration into Euro-Atlantic structures defined ever since 1993, when the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia unanimously adopted the Resolution on the Accession of the Republic of Macedonia to NATO and reaffirmed it again in 2007.
As a long-lasting partner, the Republic of Macedonia has proved itself as a reliable ally of the Alliance, ready to promote the shared democratic values and responsibilities. The Republic of Macedonia remains committed to its participation in the activities of the international community for the purpose of handling the threats and challenges to international peace and security.
In May 2003, Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, and the U.S. created the Adriatic Charter, modeled on the Baltic Charter, as a mechanism for promoting regional cooperation to advance each country's NATO candidacy. Since then, the Adriatic Charter countries have cooperated closely in regional military exercises, and have deployed a joint medical team to support international coalition operations in Afghanistan. The Adriatic Charter expanded to include Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro as members in December 2008.
At the NATO Bucharest Summit in April 2008, Albania and Croatia received invitations to join the Alliance. NATO Allies noted that Macedonia met NATO membership criteria, but could not reach consensus on issuing an invitation for membership, in the absence of a solution to Macedonia's dispute with NATO member Greece over Macedonia's name. The United States believes Macedonia has met the performance-based standards for membership. In the final Declaration of the NATO Summit in Bucharest (2-4 April, 2008), the dedication of the Republic of Macedonia to NATO's values and operative activities, as well as the country's progress in the overall reforming process were clearly acknowledged. Nevertheless, the invitation to the Republic of Macedonia for becoming a full fledged member of NATO was left out, with the explanation that it will be extended once a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been found.
The Republic of Macedonia realized fully the plans and activities set forth in the 10th Cycle of the Membership Action Plan. The realization of the 11th Cycle of the Membership Action Plan and the implementation of the assignments presented in the 2009-2010 Annual National Program of the Republic of Macedonia for NATO membership is in progress.
Even after the NATO Summit in Bucharest, the Republic of Macedonia is committed to no other alternative than the process of integration into NATO and the EU. The integration into the family of free democracies is not a matter of choice for the Republic of Macedonia, neither it stands as an imposed obligation, but is merely a matter of natural fusion of the goals and values to which the country is fully committed.
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