North Macedonia to take its seat at NATO

The country is now expected to become full member of the alliance by next Spring

Photo: EPA Northern Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev addresses the nation during the ceremony of raising the NATO flag

The former Yugoslav state Macedona has officially gained its new name as the Republic of North Macedonia, putting a start to country's official process of joining NATO. According to alliance's officials it will be accepted as a full member late this year or early in 2020 once parliaments have endorsed the so-called `Protocol of the North Atlantic Treaty for the Accession of North Macedonia`. Until then, however, it can take part in NATO meetings as a guest.

The country celebrated on Tuesday with a flag-raising ceremony marking the occasion.

"We are raising today the NATO flag, which, along with the EU's and our own, defines not only our future, but also the future of the next generations. This is not only a symbol, but also a reality. This is a new page in our history," Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said during the ceremony in front of the Macedonian government building.

He also stressed that now the Macedonians could proudly say that their country is on the right path to progress and unlimited development.

"We managed from the secondary Balkan road, we have waited on for decades, to return back to the main highway to Europe," Zaev added, continuing that in the upcoming months all the Macedonian citizens would be direct participants in the most significant period in country's history.

The Macedonian Prime Minister also said he expects in the next few days to begin the next complicated stage in the construction of Macedonia at European standards and expressed hope that no one will block the process from outside. 

According to the plans the country must put new border signs in the next three days, produce new vehicle registration numbers in 4 months, prepare the new passports by the end of the year and launch brand new banknotes by 2020 as part of the measures that must be implemented in accordance to the Prespes Treaty with Greece.

In addition Northern Macedonia will have until 2024 to expand its defence expenditure to 2% GDP - the same as all other allies of NATO if it wants to become a member in time.

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