European Western Balkans

Stoltenberg: Skopje important partner for NATO

Zoran Zaev and Jens Stoltenberg; Photo: NATO

BRUSSELS – NATO and the remaining part of the international community were shocked from the attack at the Parliament, said NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg at the joint press conference on Monday with the Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Meta repors.

He stressed that since April there has been a tremendous advancement in Macedonia but that the new government should start working on the improvement of a better governance, the rule of law, strengthening of the democratic institutions, the improvement of the inter-ethnic and good neighborly relations.

-“We want to see your country as part of a stable, democratic and prosperous region. NATO’s doors are open, we support all aspiring countries – said Stoltenberg, saying also that a political stability of the country is necessary, but the obstacle for the membership in the Alliance should be surpassed.

The Prime Minister stressed that Macedonia has proven to be a great supporter of NATO especially through sending its soldiers on the Alliance’s missions, but despite that, it still hasn’t received its deserved membership.

-If we were a member of NATO we would have been providing even greater support. There is a great support for NATO among the citizens of Macedonia. But, despite the things we have done previously that were necessary, that wasn’t enough. That is not fair – said Zaev, saying that the new government is dedicated to the reforms and the judiciary, in accordance with EU’s recommendations.

When asked if the reforms are implemented whether NATO is ready to offer membership to Macedonia, Stoltenberg said that the Alliance still stands behind the stance that was expressed at the summit in Bucharest in 2008 and at the summit in Warsaw, 2016 i.e. what is necessary is an acceptable solution for the name dispute for both sides.

-What is necessary is an acceptable solution for both sides within NATO’s framework. We aren’t suggesting a solution but if it is acceptable for Greece and Macedonia, we are ready for moving the membership process forward – said Stoltenberg.

Calling Skopje “an important partner” for NATO, the Secretary General also thanked Prime Minister Zaev for his country’s contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. He noted that the Alliance will continue to support Skopje’s path towards Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership.

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