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SOFIA (Bulgaria), January 30 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's government said on Wednesday that it has decided to support neighbouring Macedonia's bid for NATO accession.
The decision also empowered the acting head of Bulgaria's permanent delegation to NATO to sign the NATO accession protocol for Macedonia, the government said in a statement following its weekly meeting.
On Monday, Macedonia's foreign ministry said that the preparation of the NATO accession protocol for the country is underway, citing a letter sent by the secretary general of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, to foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov.
The announcement came after the parliament of neighbouring Greece on Friday ratified the agreement with Skopje to rename the former Yugoslav republic to North Macedonia, thus unblocking the path for the country to join NATO and the EU. Earlier this month, Macedonia's parliament endorsed four amendments to the constitution on renaming the country to North Macedonia, delivering on Skopje's commitments under the agreement.
“Once the accession protocol is formally signed, the next stage of the accession process will begin, to be followed by the ratification of the protocol in the national parliaments of the NATO member states,” the Macedonian foreign ministry said.
On October 18, NATO launched formal accession talks with Macedonia.
Athens had blocked Macedonia’s attempts to join NATO and the EU for 27 years over the country's name. According to Greece, the current name Republic of Macedonia implied territorial claims on the Greek northernmost province of the same name.
Macedonia and Greece signed the agreement on the name change in June.