Although the crisis in the government coalition in Greece brought a dose of uncertainty over the Prespa Agreement, the whole procedure for Macedonia’s accession to NATO was ready and the approximate assessment shows that Macedonia could become a member of the alliance as soon as February and our representatives could start participating in all meetings of the organization. Macedonia, until the accession protocol is ratified, which is expected to last a year and a half, will have a seat between Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the US representative, but will not have the right to vote at the Alliance’s meetings.
After ten years of disbelief that one day and our country will join NATO, for the first time it can be said that, from now on, politics will not play the main role, yet procedure. After the confidence vote in Greece’s Parliament on Wednesday evening, which is almost certain after all public confirmations by the officials of the Independent Greeks who turned their backs on Panos Kammenos and joined Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the vote on the Prespa Agreement in the Greek Parliament will be scheduled, which could happen by the end of this week. In the meantime, the Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov is supposed to send a letter to Brussels informing that the procedure in Macedonia has been completed and that now it’s Greece’s turn. In doing so, he will express our readiness to complete the required reforms and take over the responsibilities arising from the membership.
After the Prespa Agreement is passed in Greece and then ratified, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should send a similar letter to NATO in Brussels, which will represent a consent to begin the signing the accession protocol. It should happen during February of the North Atlantic Council and at the level of ambassadors in NATO, practically according to the message we have heard these past ten years – that Macedonia can become a member of the alliance any given Wednesday. At the signing, which will be done by all ambassadors at the same time, representatives of Macedonia will not be attending, because the procedure does not foresee it.
From that day on, Macedonia will be attending all working meetings of the Alliance, and it should practically begin completing our mission in Brussels so that all political and military activities can be monitored. According to the agreement, Greece should be the first country to ratify the protocol for admission of Macedonia into the Alliance, which means it will have to vote for the second time because the Protocol is awaiting its signature of the Prespa Agreement and both document cannot be adopted at the same time. NATO’s estimates are that Macedonia, or North Macedonia, will formally become a member of the Alliance at the beginning of 2020 at the latest, and will take its permanent seat – between Norway and the Netherlands. Even when it becomes a member, Macedonia will have to continue working on the national NATO reform programme, primarily in the defense and intelligence services. NATO has already announced that they will seek revision of all security certificates issued in the country so as not to have so-called “bombs” in the internal functioning as our country did, which showed the situation in the intelligence services in the country. The formal reception ceremony of Macedonia, with raising flags and a formal signing, will take place in 2020, and since then our citizens will be able to apply to all job openings published by NATO, which has been done by some that own Bulgarian or other passports. Macedonia will be the 30th member of the Alliance and it is a question whether, in some foreseeable future, NATO will make another decision on enlargement because there is no enthusiasm for this, and we are literally catching the last train.