BRUSSELS: NATO said Saturday its 29 members will Wednesday clear the way for Macedonia to become the alliance’s 30th member following its historic name change.
“On 6 February we will write history: #NATO Allies will sign the accession protocol with the future Republic of North Macedonia,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov would attend the ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, he added.
“Following the signature of the Accession Protocol, Skopje will be able to take part in NATO’s activities as an invitee,” a NATO official said.
“The accession process then moves to the capitals of the 29 Allies, where the Protocol will be ratified according to national procedures. Once that process is completed the country will become a full member.
“The timeline for this process will largely be driven by the time required for national ratification procedure in Allied capitals.”
Last month’s accord with Greece to change the name of the former Yugoslav republic to Republic of North Macedonia ended one of the world’s longest diplomatic disputes, paving the way for Skopje to join NATO and the European Union.
Since 1991, Athens had objected to its neighbor being called Macedonia because Greece has a northern province of the same name. In ancient times it was the cradle of Alexander the Great’s empire, a source of intense pride for Greeks.