SKOPJE, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* - The NATO Secretary General officially extended the invitation to start accession talks to join NATO to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Prime Minister Zaev, after the decision was made at the North Atlantic Council held June 11 to 12 at the NATO Summit held in Brussels.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted that this has been a crucial breakthrough, which has opened the path for full NATO membership. He announced that detailed accession talks will now begin, to help the country make its final preparations for membership.
"Once all your national procedures are complete, and all NATO Allies have ratified your accession, you will become the thirtieth member of this Alliance,” said Stoltenberg. "With a seat at our table, with an equal voice in our discussions, an equal vote in our decisions and the security that comes with being part of the world’s most successful military alliance; that will be a proud and important day for your country, for your region and for NATO. We want to see you and your country at the heart of a stable, democratic and prosperous region.”
Stoltenberg said that today is an important milestone in achieving that goal and that the coming months will be extremely busy.
"But today is a day to celebrate. So, congratulations to you, Prime Minister Zaev. And congratulations to your people,” he said.
Zaev expressed his gratitude to the Secretary General and to his colleagues from Bulgaria and Greece for the agreements on good neighborly relations.
"This is a historical decision for the country and its citizens, an acknowledgement of our dedicated work for two decades and for all Macedonian politicians ever since we declared independence up until today,” said Zaev. He added that this membership will consolidate the democracy in the region and will serve as a positive example in the Western Balkan.
"As a future 30th member of the Alliance, we stand ready to be a positive example and contribute to shaping the Western Balkan into a peaceful, prosperous and democratic region,” added Zaev.
*Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name.