Pendarovski: NATO is the only alternative that is beneficial for Macedonia

-NATO is the only alternative that is beneficial for Macedonia. Small countries enter into alliances with big ones, otherwise they cannot survive, NATO National Coordinator Stevo Pendarovski told a debate on Tuesday.

Pendarovski said the name agreement is the best the country could get from the present political context.

“We had a stronger opponent on one hand, having the resources and the diaspora on its side, and we got out of a decade-long autocratic regime that ruined our negotiating positions on the other,” said Pendarovski at debate “Positive and Negative Aspects of Macedonia’s NATO Accession”, organized by the Institute for Strategy and Development.

Pertaining to the referendum and a possible change of the required turnout, he said it is not good to alter rules in light of the event.

“The question at the referendum should be formulated in Parliament. Furthermore, it should be decided what type of a referendum we will have – a mandatory or a consultative one. However, regardless of the type, the citizens’ decision will be binding,” said Pendarovski.

According to him, if the referendum outcome is negative, then negotiations would continue in another time and a different generation of politicians.

Pendarovski said the decision of President Gjorge Ivanov not to sign the law ratifying the name agreement was expected.

He referred to the benefits from the NATO accession, Macedonia’s cooperation with the Alliance and its presence in the country since the 2001 conflict.

“As a result of the intelligence exchange with Alliance member-states, a couple of attacks have been foiled at Macedonian territory over the past 18 months, as well as one attack on a big western European city after Macedonian services got the information from a Syria returnee,” stressed Pendarovski.

Regarding the Russian influence on Macedonia’s politics, he said the Russian presence has increased over the past three years, but it is the first time that pro-Russian parties have emerged in Macedonia.

Pendarovski underlined that Macedonia should take into consideration its strategic interest, adding that the NATO accession would not represent a threat for Russia.