Following a decades-long dispute with Greece over its name, the newly named Republic of North Macedonia will begin the process to join NATO, the secretary general of the military alliance announced Saturday.
“On 6 February we will write history: #NATO Allies will sign the accession protocol with the future Republic of North Macedonia,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted.
The move came after the Balkan state agreed to change its name to North Macedonia to settle a decades-long dispute with Greece, which remains highly unpopular in Greece.
Greece had argued the country’s name infringed on its northern province, also called Macedonia, as well as millennia-old historical references to the Greek nature and heritage of the name “Macedonia,” blocking the country’s membership in NATO and the European Union.
After a long debate and protests by tens of thousands of people who opposed the deal, the Greek parliament ratified the name change January 25.
North Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov will travel to Brussels to take part in Wednesday’s ceremony along with representatives from the 29 NATO member countries.
European Union accession talks will also begin shortly, aiming to bring the Slavic-majority nation into the Western sphere of influence and blocking both Russian and Turkish influence which was increasing in the country while it was estranged from the west during the dispute with Greece.
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