NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated on Monday in Belgrade that the Alliance was ready to accept Macedonia as a member, but only if Skopje fully implemented a deal on its new name agreed with Athens, the Beta news agency reported.
Ahead of the intentional disaster relief exercise “Serbia 2018” held in Belgrade suburb of Mladenovac, Stoltenberg said it was up to Macedonia to decide what to do following the failure of the consultative referendum, but added that NATO was ready to soon accept the country as its 30th member state.
“That can be done very quickly after the name deal is implemented,” Stoltenberg said, adding there was no any alternative to the implementation of the agreement signed in June by Macedonian and Greek prime ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras.
The agreement that ended the 27-year-old dispute that blocked Skopje from the Euro-Atlantic integrations said that the new name for the former Yugoslav republic should be North Macedonia, but nationalists in both countries staged protests over the deal. Skopje organised the referendum, linking the new name to the global integrations.
Though the vast majority of those who voted said yes to the deal, the turnout was low, and the issue has to be decided in the Parliament where Zaev’s pro-agreement coalition is nine votes short of the two-thirds majority need for constitutional changes.
In the meantime, the main opposition party in Macedonia, VMRO-DPMNE, declared the deal dead, indicating its members would not support it in the Parliament.