The scene has been set for the accession of the Republic of North Macedonia to NATO. In February 2019, member states are to sign the accession protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty. The German government will work for the swift adoption of the protocol so that formal accession can take place before the end of the month.
Stabilising the Western Balkans
In terms of foreign policy, North Macedonia plays a constructive role in the Western Balkans. This became particularly clear in its readiness to agree to the change of name negotiated with Greece in June 2018 from Macedonia to North Macedonia. The background to the conflict was that the government and parliament in Athens refused to recognise the name Republic of Macedonia because a Greek province is also called Macedonia.
The accession of North Macedonia to NATO thus marks the resolution of over 25 years of conflict with Greece over the name of the new state.
On 17 June 2018, the governments in Skopje and Athens concluded the Prespa Agreement which resolved the issue of the name. Following this agreement, on 12 July 2018 the heads of state and government of NATO member states issued an invitation to the government in Skopje to begin access negotiations – provided the constitutional changes required under the terms of the Prespa Agreement were implemented within the country. On 11 January 2019 the Macedonian parliament resolved to implement the provisions of the Prespa Agreement inside the country. Greece approved the agreement two weeks later.
The accession will also mark a valuable contribution to the transatlantic community of values. In recent years, North Macedonia has ambitiously reformed its security sector and made major progress in the fields of the rule of law and democracy. The Macedonian government has committed to resolutely continuing the reforms already launched.