Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Nato clears way for new member on ‘historic day’

Macedonia marks key milestone on the cusp of name change

Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov (L) makes a fist as he stands along side NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the signing ceremony of the accession protocol between the Republic of North Macedonia and NATO at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels on February 6, 2019. AFP
Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov (L) makes a fist as he stands along side NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the signing ceremony of the accession protocol between the Republic of North Macedonia and NATO at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels on February 6, 2019. AFP

Nato has cleared the way for Macedonia to become the 30th member to join the military alliance.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday was a “historic day” after member states signed an accession agreement with the Balkan nation.

Each Nato member will have to ratify the agreement before Macedonia can officially become a member.

Macedonia is expected to change its official name to North Macedonia in the coming days, after a 27-year dispute with neighbour Greece.

Greece had accused Macedonia of having territorial ambitions by appropriating the name of the Greek region of Macedonia.

Both countries agreed to end the dispute last month after the proposed name change, however protestors in both countries have voice their disapproval since.

"In a matter of days, we'll resolve the last remaining dispute we have with any of our neighbours,” said Macedonia’s foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov.

In a turn of fortunes, Greece could become the first country to ratify the ascension protocol.

Joining Nato would be a huge marker for the soon-to-be North Macedonia. The country had its application blocked by Greece ten years ago.

Nato approval could pave the way for the former Yugoslav nation to join the European Union in the near future.

Mr Stoltenberg also announced on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump would be visiting the UK in December.

Heads of state and leaders of Nato members will be meeting in London, home to the organisation’s first headquarters.

Nato is celebrating 70 years since its formation.

Updated: February 6, 2019 05:40 PM

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