Stoltenberg: NATO’s door is open, Macedonia is on the doorstep

At our Summit in two weeks, I expect that Allied Heads of State and Government will invite you to start accession talks, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday in Brussels at the joint press conference with the Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev.

Stoltenberg welcomes the agreement reached between Macedonia and Greece, which sets an example for others across the region on how to consolidate peace and stability.

“The name dispute has cast a shadow over the region for too long. It has held back prosperity and security. But now there is the chance for a brighter future. NATO’s door is open, and you are now on the doorstep. You have already shown your commitment to international peace and security, working with NATO,” Stoltenberg said.

“Once all national procedures have been completed to finalise the agreement, you will join NATO. Without the finalisation of the agreement, your country can not join NATO in the foreseeable future. So this is an historic opportunity which cannot be missed,” Stoltenberg underlined.

Asked about his expectations for the upcoming NATO Summit, he believes that the country will be invited to start accession talks.

“Once we complete accession talks and name agreement will be closed, the country will become full-fledged member,” Stoltenberg said.

PM Zaev expects Macedonia to become 30th NATO member states and its flag to be raised in front of the NATO headquarters.

He underlines that Macedonia has been waiting for the invitation since 2008 when it was concluded that it fulfills all NATO membership requirements and standards.

Macedonia’s NATO accession talks will begin by the delivery of the membership invitation on July 12. The signing of the accession protocol is expected in January 2019, following the implementation of Macedonia’s obligations stemming from the name agreement, Government sources told MIA.

From that day forward, Macedonia will take part in all NATO structures, getting a chair on the table of the North Atlantic Council, sitting next to Norway.

The ratification of the accession protocol in all NATO member-states requires approximately 1-1,5 year.