NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that he expects Macedonia to be invited to join the Alliance at its July summit, Macedonian media reported.
“I expect the allied heads of state and government will invite you to start accession talks. Once all national procedures have been completed to finalise the agreement [with Greece] you will join NATO. Without the finalisation of the agreement your country cannot join NATO in the foreseeable future,” he told a joint press conference with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
“NATO’s door is open and you are on the doorstep,” Stoltenberg said.
Greece refused to approve the start to Macedonia’s accession negotiations with the European Union and NATO until the dispute over the name of that former Yugoslav republic was resolved.
We want to see you and your country at the heart of a stable and prosperous region, he added.
Zaev told reporters that Macedonia has been waiting to join NATO since 2008 when it reached the required level of standards, adding that it has been engaged in NATO missions since then.
Regional cooperation holds an especially significant place in government policy, and the agreement with Greece has pushed forward our entry into the Alliance, he said.
Zaev said he expects NATO membership to bring economic growth.