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SKOPJE (Macedonia), July 12 (SeeNews) – The member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) decided to invite Macedonia to start accession talks, the secretary general of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said.
“We agreed to invite the government of Skopje to start accession talks. Once all national procedures have been completed to finalise the name agreement, the country will join NATO as our thirtieth member,” Stoltenberg said in press conference on Wednesday during a NATO summit in Brussels.
“NATO’s door is and will remain open. We warmly welcomed last month’s historic agreement between Athens and Skopje,” he added.
Last week, Macedonia's parliament ratified in a second vote the agreement with Greece to resolve the 27-year old dispute between the two neighouring countries by changing the name of the former Yugoslav republic to North Macedonia.
The Macedonian parliament ratified the agreement for the first time on June 20. However, Macedonian president Gjorge Ivanov refused to sign it into law, saying it runs against the Constitution and its ratification was not carried out in accordance with the constitution.
In order for the agreement to enter into force, it must also be ratified by the Greek parliament. In addition, Macedonia will also hold a referendum on the deal in the autumn of 2018, Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev said in June.
The deal was signed on June 17 by the foreign ministers of Macedonia and Greece Nikola Dimitrov and Nikos Kotzias, paving the way for the former Yugoslav republic to join NATO and the European Union under its new name of North Macedonia. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Zaev, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and senior representatives of the European Commission.
Athens has blocked Macedonia’s attempts to join NATO and the EU over the country's name, which according to Greece allegedly implies territorial clams on the Greek northernmost province of the same name.