The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) took one more important step towards NATO on Wednesday, seeking to achieve its entry to the alliance.
After the ratification of the Prespes Agreement from the Greek Parliament, NATO signed the access protocol at its headquarters in Brussels. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov led the signing procedure with both of them stating satisfied by the result.
Speaking following the ceremony, Jens Stoltenberg said that, “NATO keeps almost one billion citizens across Europe and North America secure and with you joining NATO there will be thirty countries committed to protect each other. Your accession will bring more stability to the Western Balkans. This is good for the region and for Euro-Atlantic security.”
Furthermore, he congratulated Greece and FYROM for their dedication and willingness to reach a solution over the 27-year name dispute, marking the day as a “historic” one.
From his side, Nikola Dimitrov commented that, “This wasn’t inevitable – this wasn’t even very likely to happen,” praising the political leaders on both sides who proved “the impossible is actually doable”. “This is a family that strives to make our world more peaceful and a better place. This is a journey that has made us more mature… we have proven that we can assume our responsibility, face a problem, and resolve those problems […] In a matter of days, we’ll resolve the last remaining dispute we have with any of our neighbours.”
He also added that “I’m certain that even the ‘enemies’ of the agreement will be convinced once they see the results,” underlining the importance of friendship and alliance among neighbouring countries.
Despite the signed protocol, the total procedure over name changing and entrance to NATO isn’t over yet. Now each of the allies will have to ratify the access protocol. The complete ratification will lead to the official renaming of the country as“Republic of North Macedonia” and, then, to the raising of its flag outside NATO headquarters, making it the 30th member of the alliance. Greece will be the first one ratifying FYROM’s entry to NATO, having already scheduled the procedure for Friday, February 8th.