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NATO signs accession protocol with Macedonia

(Xinhua)    09:16, February 07, 2019

Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov (L) meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 6, 2019. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) welcomed Macedonia and the member states signed the accession protocol, making our country permanently secured, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev posted in the social media on Wednesday. (Xinhua/NATO)

SKOPJE, Feb. 6 -- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) welcomed Macedonia and the member states signed the accession protocol, making our country permanently secured, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev posted in the social media on Wednesday.

The Permanent Representatives of 29 NATO member states in a meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels signed the protocol on Macedonia's accession in the presence of Macedonian foreign minister.

"This is historic day for our citizens. Today we sat side by side with our allies, at the same table, at the same alliance," wrote Zaev.

Zaev added that "our generations and children of our generations will live better, in the country and in a region is radiating with hope."

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg commended Zaev and Greek PM Alexis Tsipras for their "courage" in signing a bilateral agreement last year that gave an end to the dispute over Macedonia's name.

"Today is a historic day. All NATO Allies have signed the accession protocol with Macedonia, which will bring more security and prosperity to the whole region. I look forward to the day when 30 flags will fly outside NATO's headquarters," tweeted Stoltenberg.

The signing of the accession protocol will be followed by a ratification process in all 29 parliaments of the NATO members, after which Macedonia will become a full NATO member with a right to vote.

"I am confident that the ratification process will proceed smoothly and we will soon be able to welcome you as a full NATO member," said Stoltenberg.

Greece and Macedonia have been in dispute since 1991, when the former Yugoslav republic gained independence. Greece has objected to its neighbour's constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia, fearing that the name indicates territorial ambitions over the northern Greek province of Macedonia. Greece's objection has impeded Skopje's bids to join NATO and the European Union.

Under the UN-brokered Prespa Agreement in June 2018, Macedonia's constitutional name would become "the Republic of North Macedonia."

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(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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