A NATO delegation arrived in Skopje on Wednesday for the formal start of talks on Macedonia’s membership in the Alliance, the Beta news agency reported.
The delegation is headed by the head of NATO’s Euro-Atlantic and Global Partnership James Mackey who told a media conference with his host, Macedonia’s National Coordinator for NATO Stevo Pendarovski, that he expects the former Yugoslav republic to join the Alliance in about 18 months.
Mackey said Macedonia will become a full member of NATO once it completes its internal procedures (including those on the agreement with Greece to change the country’s name) and once all other member states ratify the accession decision.
Discussing our future in the Alliance at a very productive meeting with the Head of Euro-Atlantic and Global Partnership, NATO, Mr. James Mackey.— Драган Тевдовски (@DTevdovski) July 25, 2018
PM @Zoran_Zaev once again proved his will to lead the country forward, towards its strategic goals. #OnTheSamePath#MKNATOpic.twitter.com/gOAOVwQOI8
Macedonia’s membership in NATO and the opening of accession talks with the European Union depends on the full implementation of the agreement to change its name to North Macedonia which was reached by Prime Ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras in June.
Mackey said his delegation would discuss the reforms Macedonia needs to implement. “Your country was part of the Partnership for Peace program for a number of years and was involved in drafting the membership action plan which means that it is ready,” the NATO official said.
“We expect to achieve the maximum or even complete the pre-accession negotiations by the new year,” local media reported Pendarovski as saying. He said the discussions with the NATO delegation would include military, technical, legal and financial issues.