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NATO signs accession protocol with Macedonia to become alliance partner

Are the risks too great? Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Belgium Feb 07, 2019, 10.34 AM (IST)

Permanent representatives of the 29 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Wednesday signed the Accession Protocol for the Republic of North Macedonia in Brussels, clearing the way for the Balkan nation to become the alliance's 30th member.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov led the accession protocol signing ceremony at the alliance's headquarters in the Belgian capital.

Following the signing of the protocol, North Macedonia can take part in NATO activities as an invitee, said NATO in a statement published on its website.

The accession process now moves to the capitals of the 29 NATO members, where the protocol will be ratified according to national procedures. North Macedonia will become a member of NATO as soon as all members have ratified the protocol, said the statement.

Greece had previously blocked its neighbour's NATO membership over a name dispute. Athens saw the former Yugoslav republic's name as a threat to its own administrative region of Macedonia.

The Balkan nation has agreed to change its name to "Republic of North Macedonia" to gain access to NATO and the European Union (EU).

Story highlights

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov led the accession protocol signing ceremony at the alliance's headquarters in the Belgian capital.