Stoltenberg: Macedonia’s accession to NATO depends on the referendum outcome

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that Macedonia’s accession to the Alliance depended on the referendum outcome.

“I expect and hope that the heads of state and government can agree to start accession talks, and then we will be able to invite the FYR Macedonia to become a full member if the agreement is finalized and fully implemented, meaning that we need full ratification and a ‘yes’ vote at the referendum. Given this happens, I am quite optimistic,” Stoltenberg told reporters prior to the Foreign Affairs Council.

He added it would be difficult for Macedonia to join NATO if the name agreement was not supported at the referendum.

“If FYR Macedonia finalizes and implements the agreement and a ‘yes’ vote at a referendum, then NATO will invite the country to become a full member. This is a historic agreement which provides a historic opportunity for the FYR Macedonia to become a full member of NATO and I really urge the people of the country to seize this opportunity and support the agreement. If the agreement is not supported, then I cannot see how it can be possible to invite the country to become a member in the foreseeable future. This is a one-time opportunity and has to be seized,” underlined Stoltenberg.