Macedonia expects invitation to join NATO | Balkans

Clay Curtis
July 14, 2018

"Once all national procedures have been completed to finalise the name agreement, the country will join NATO as our 30th member", NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

NATO's move follows Macedonia's landmark accord with Greece over the ex-Yugoslav republic's name.

Meanwhile a Russian diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly dismissed as "nonsense" allegations that Russian diplomats were involved in undermining Greek public support for the Macedonia deal.

In a signing ceremony marking the beginning of the talks with Skopje, Stoltenberg said detailed discussions would begin to help the country make its final preparations. Greece had argued the name "Macedonia" implied territorial claims on its province of the same name and usurped its ancient Greek heritage. Russian Federation also said it would respond in kind, in a rare diplomatic row between two countries with traditionally warm relations.

Moscow has been wary of NATO's increased build-up near its borders while accusing countries like Poland of opportunism by trying to secure permanent North Atlantic Treaty Organisation presence on their soil.

Thousands of Macedonians take part in a protest over a compromise solution in Macedonia's dispute with Greece over the country's name in Skopje, Macedonia, June 2, 2018.

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They point to the effort by Russian Federation to intervene in a sensitive domestic issue like the agreement between Greece and FYROM over the name, and by doing so negatively affect Greece's role in the Balkans.

The Western countries do not quite like benevolent relations between Athens and Moscow both at the official level and between ordinary citizens, Pshenichnikov said.

"Still, we believe that this is going to be an isolated incident exactly because it is in our intention to safeguard the very good Greek-Russian relations".

The Greek newspaper Kathimerini named the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, an organisation which promotes Russian ties to Christians in the Middle East, as being among the groups trying to fan Russian influence in Greece.

After a period of political crisis, the two governments have agreed to the name of Republic of North Macedonia, though that still has to be put to a referendum in the Balkan state.

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