NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is expected to hand over the membership invitation to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Thursday, on the second day of the summit. In Brussels, the prime minister will be accompanied by the Ministers of Defense, Foreign Affairs and European Integration Radmila Sekerinska, Nikola Dimitrov and Bujar Osmani.
The name agreement with Greece, and previously the normative reforms undertaken in the judiciary and security services, brought the membership invitation to the country after a decade's blockade on its path to NATO, as a result of Greece’s veto. The expectations of the Macedonian government are that the entire membership process will finish in half a year.
After receiving the invitation, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sekerinska, Macedonia expects to sit at the table with the Alliance and the membership process should not take longer than six months. Sekerinska, in an interview with Radio Free Europe, said she did not expect any additional problems during the process. According to her, the upcoming summit will correct the injustice done in Bucharest.
"We should now take back what our country lost 10 years ago, use it and provide a new chance for Macedonia. The invitation to NATO membership opens a process that is short, rather intense, but ends with the fulfillment of one of the two strategic goals of this country - full membership in the most powerful alliance in the world," Sekerinska said.
She points out that with the moment of signing the pre-accession agreement, even before it is ratified, NATO eventually decides with the support of all member states, even before the ratification of the parliaments of all 29 members takes place, Macedonia will already sit at the NATO table. "We will sit side by side with the United States, Britain, France, Germany and the countries of our neighborhood, and instead of making others make decisions, we will take part in decision making. It is basically a great chance for Macedonia to influence when major decisions are made. NATO membership will give all citizens of this country the chance to feel that no one is questioning whether this country will survive or not. However, NATO membership also means a huge engine for the Macedonian economy," Sekerinska said.
The agreement that the governments of Macedonia and Greece signed in Prespa re-opened the gates of NATO to our country. However, in the upcoming period until full membership, the Macedonian authorities will have to push in parallel the process of implementation of that agreement. The key work that follows in this direction is the referendum that should be conducted in the autumn, and whose success would then allow for the transition to constitutional changes in accordance with the agreement with Greece.
"I am convinced that the majority of citizens will vote in favor of the Macedonian identity, for the Macedonian future and for membership in the EU and NATO," Sekerinska said. In an interview with Radio Free Europe, she emphasizes that in the upcoming referendum on the name, as well as in the early 90s in the referendum on independence, citizens have a historic chance, but also a responsibility to make the right decision.