Stoltenberg: NATO to invite Macedonia once name dispute is resolved

NATO will extend an invitation to Macedonia to join the Alliance once a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue within the UN is reached, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Wednesday’s edition of Belgrade daily Politika.

Referring to the security situation in the world and the Balkans, he spoke about his visit to Skopje and the aspirations for NATO membership.

He said that the Alliance remains committed to Macedonia’s support on its path to NATO membership and we want the country to succeed in that, adding there is a positive momentum for the name issue.

“I am glad that I visited Skopje this month. We remain committed to supporting the country on its path to NATO membership and we want to succeed in that. This is in line with the decision taken at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 and is repeated in our declarations in Wales and Warsaw. The Allies agreed that NATO will send Macedonia an invitation to join the Alliance once a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue within the UN is reached. And recently, we have seen a positive momentum for the name issue,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg also underlined that government’s work in regard to the reforms is also important for NATO.

“Since the formation of the new government last year, we have seen renewed efforts in the reforms. During my visit, I encouraged the government to continue with the implementation of reforms that would strengthen the rule of law and democratic institutions. I also encouraged all political parties and other stakeholders in the country to engage in an open and constructive dialogue,” Stoltenberg noted.

Regarding the security situation in the Western Balkans, NATO chief noted that the region is of strategic importance for the Alliance.

“We remain fully engaged, and it helps to promote stability in the region. We see the region’s future in Euro-Atlantic cooperation and integration. Every nation has the right to decide on its future and to choose its own political and security measures. This is the basic principle of European security – this is a principle that Russia has also signed and should respect. NATO enlargement is not directed against Russia,” Stoltenberg said.

According to Stoltenberg, NATO is committed to strengthening partnership with Serbia, fully respecting its policy of neutrality.

“It is clear that NATO and Serbia are neighbours sharing similar interests and common security challenges. And that helps Serbia to advance its European agenda. That is why I hope that our cooperation will continue further in the months and years to come and that the Serbian people will accept the possibilities that all this brings,” he said.

In the interview he also referred to security situation in the world, saying the NATO is facing “the most complex and unpredictable security challenges in a generation”.