NATO has formally invited FYROM to begin membership talks on joining the North Atlantic alliance. The invitation was issued on July 11 after the NATO Summit meeting in Brussels of heads of states from the 29 members. The invitation was expected after FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras signed the Macedonia Agreement on June 17.
“I have just signed a letter informing Prime Minister Zaev of NATO’s decision to invite his government in Skopje to begin accession talks with the Alliance”, Mr. Stoltenberg said.
The ceremony followed the decision by NATO leaders at the Brussels Summit to invite the Government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join the Alliance, once the terms of the agreement between Athens and Skopje are met.
“For many years the members of your armed forces have participated in Allied missions. Helping to bring peace and security to Afghanistan. NATO has shown that the door to joining the Alliance is and remains open”, the Secretary General said.
He stressed that the agreement on the name issue that the government in Skopje reached with Greece has removed the obstacle to the opening of accession talks.
“I know that the compromises involved were difficult for both parties. But I believe the agreement is in the best interests of your country and the wider region. I congratulate you and all those involved for their political courage. And their commitment to a better future”, he said.
Mr. Stoltenberg highlighted that this has been a crucial breakthrough, which has opened the path for full NATO membership. He announced that detailed accession talks will now begin, to help the country make its final preparations for membership.
“Once all your national procedures are complete, and all NATO Allies have ratified your accession, you will become the thirtieth member of this Alliance. With a seat at our table. With an equal voice in our discussions. An equal vote in our decisions. And the security that comes with being part of the world’s most successful military alliance. That will be a proud and important day for your country. For your region. And for NATO. We want to see you and your country at the heart of a stable, democratic and prosperous region”, the Secretary General said.
Mr. Stoltenberg said that today is an important milestone in achieving that goal and that the coming months will be extremely busy.
“But today is a day to celebrate. So, congratulations to you, Prime Minister Zaev. And congratulations to your people”, he said.