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NATO ready to welcome North Macedonia as 30th member says NATO chief

Christian Fernsby |
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is ready to welcome North Macedonia as its 30th member, NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared here on Monday at a joint press conference with Zoran Zaev, the Prime Minister of North Macedonia.

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Together with a delegation from the North Atlantic Council, Stoltenberg is paying a two-day official visit in North Macedonia to talk about the country's membership to NATO.

During his speech at the press conference, Stoltenberg said that this historic visit has a clear message that NATO "is ready to welcome your country into the NATO family."

Stoltenberg praised the reforms on security and defense implemented by North Macedonia, and added that these reforms need to be continued.

"Reforms are important for your membership in NATO, but will also strengthen further the country's Euro-Atlantic ambitions," Stoltenberg said.

Moreover, NATO's chief asked the government to increase the defense spending and to meet the pledge of spending of 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense.

On his side, Zaev said that they jointly discussed the progress of the country's national structure for NATO integration.

Zaev underlined that North Macedonia is ready for a new beginning as a full-fledged member and as a credible NATO ally.

"We are committed to promote and share joint values and responsibilities of NATO," Zaev added.

Moreover, Zaev underlined that North Macedonia is firmly committed to the increase of the budget for the defense by at least 0.2 percent from the GDP every year aiming to achieve the 2 percent of the GDP by 2024 the latest.

This is the first visit of Stoltenberg and senior NATO officials to North Macedonia after the Permanent Representatives to NATO of 29 member states signed the protocol on North Macedonia's accession in a meeting at the Alliance's headquarters on Feb. 6 in Brussels.

So far, the parliaments of 14 out of 29 member states of the Alliance have ratified the Accession Protocol. Once the 29 member states ratify the Accession Protocol the country will officially become a full-fledged NATO member.

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