Tuesday

18th Jun 2019

Nato to add Macedonia despite Putin warning

  • Macedonian foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov (l) with Nato ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday (Photo: nato.int)

Macedonia is on its way to join Nato next year despite Russian opposition.

The prospect comes after Nato states' ambassadors signed an accession protocol with Macedonia's foreign minister in Brussels on Wednesday (6 February).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Nato last took in Montenegro in 2017 (Photo: nato.it)

"I really look forward to seeing 30 allied flags fly outside Nato headquarters," Nato head Jens Stoltenberg said.

"Once all allies have ratified the protocol, Skopje will become the 30th member of the alliance," he added.

"For us, Nato is about making the world more peaceful, more stable," Macedonian foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov said.

Visitors to the Nato HQ in Kabul were already used to seeing "the [Macedonian] flag on our soldiers there", he added, because Macedonian forces guarded the Nato compound.

"For many years, Macedonia has provided valuable support to Nato-led operations and missions," US Nato envoy Kay Bailey Hutchison said on Wednesday.

"By working together, we will be stronger and safer," Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders added on Twitter.

"One for all and all for one," Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius said, evoking Article V of the Nato treaty on mutual defence.

The ratification process was likely to take about a year, Nato's Stoltenberg noted.

"I am very confident that ratification will ... take place in a smooth way. We don't expect any surprises," he said.

The Greek parliament is to start the ball rolling with a ratification vote on Friday.

But the developments come amid a Russian push-back in the Western Balkans.

Nato was a "destructive ... Cold War relic" that "refused to listen to what [Russia] said in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, [and] will not listen to Russia in the 2020s," Konstantin Kosachev, a Russian senator said on Wednesday.

"The policy of the United States and certain Western countries aimed to foster their dominance in the region [the Western Balkans] constitutes a major destabilising factor," Russian president Vladimir Putin also said on a visit to Serbia in January.

Macedonia took the Nato step after formally renaming itself North Macedonia in a deal with Greece.

But Putin egged on Macedonian nationalists to oppose the process.

"Last year, the process of ... revision of fundamentals of Macedonian national identity was launched in the Republic of Macedonia for the purpose of accelerating its inclusion in Nato," he added in Belgrade.

Nato is also forging closer ties with two former Soviet republics who want to join - Georgia and Ukraine.

"We are very encouraged by what we see in Georgia," Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

The Macedonia protocol "shows that Nato's door remains open for countries that meet Nato standards and that adhere to the Nato values of democracy, the rule of law, and individual liberty," he added.

Stoltenberg's prior remark on Macedonia "surprises" comes amid accusations of Russian dirty tricks, however.

A Russian billionaire living in Greece, Ivan Savvidi, paid at least €300,000 to subversive groups in Macedonia to obstruct the Greek name deal, according to documents seen by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a consortium of investigative journalists.

There was "no doubt that they [Russia] have transferred money and they are also conducting broader influence campaigns," the then US defence chief, James Mattis, said in Skopje at the time.

Athens also expelled two Russian diplomats last September on similar grounds.

Montenegro's foreign minister, Srdan Darmanovic, said on Wednesday that he welcomed Macedonia to Nato "as an ally and a friend".

"It would bring more stability and security to our region," Darmanovic added, amid an ongoing trial of suspects in what Nato has said was a failed Russian coup in Podgorice in 2016.

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

EU split on Western Balkans accession

Europe's credibility is at risk in the Western Balkans, half its member states have warned - but EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Albania and North Macedonia unlikely to start accession talks soon.

Agenda

EU top jobs, Italy, and Western Balkans This WEEK

Talks on EP groups and top jobs in the wake of the EU election last month continue. Finance ministers also discuss whether to fine Italy, while EU commissioners promote Western Balkans enlargement.

News in Brief

  1. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  2. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat
  3. Tanker attacks pose questions for EU on Iran deal
  4. Johnson skips TV debate for UK prime ministership
  5. Slovakia's first female president takes office
  6. Irish immigration officers flew back business class
  7. Catalan MEP denied taking seat in European Parliament
  8. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  2. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  3. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  4. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  5. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  6. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  7. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  8. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us