Sat, 06 Jun 2020

North Macedonia Officially Joins NATO

28 Mar 2020, 04:15 GMT+10

North Macedonia has officially become NATO's 30th member, the military alliance says.

North Macedonia became NATO's newest member with the presentation of its 'instrument of accession' to the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C., NATO said in a statement from its headquarters in Brussels.

NATO allies signed North Macedonia's accession protocol in February 2019. Since then all NATO-member parliaments have voted to ratify the country's membership.

'North Macedonia is now part of the NATO family, a family of 30 nations and almost 1 billion people,' NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

A flag-raising ceremony for North Macedonia is scheduled to take place at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 30.

Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski signed the final accession document for the small Balkan country's entry into NATO on March 20.

The president was able to sign the document after Spain on March 17 became the last alliance member to ratify the membership of the former Yugoslav republic.

The Spanish parliament was forced to vote remotely on the membership because of fears of holding a session amid the coronavirus crisis.

Following the Spanish parliament's vote, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter that 'with that, all allies have welcomed our soon-to-be 30th member. Congratulations, North Macedonia!'

North Macedonia was granted a protocol on accession to NATO membership in February 2019, after a 2018 agreement with Greece that changed the former Yugoslav republic's name from Macedonia, resolving a decades-long dispute between Skopje and Athens.

The United States and European allies have backed Skopje's efforts to join the alliance as part of efforts to slow attempts by Russia and China to increase their influence in the Balkans.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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