Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

NATO invites Macedonia to start membership talks

NATO invites Macedonia to start membership talks

This was stated in the Brussels Summit Declaration which was agreed by all allies during the first day of a NATO Summit.

Greece said on Thursday it still seeks good relations with Moscow, a day after it expelled two Russian diplomats for trying to bribe officials and foment demonstrations to thwart a deal to allow Macedonia to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Leaders said their decision was rooted in a 2008 declaration when Macedonia was invited to join, only to be blocked by Greece over the long-running name dispute.

EXCLUSIVE / Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev recounts one of the most extraordinary political developments in recent times: the agreement with Greece on the long-standing name dispute that has blocked NATO membership and the start of European Union accession talks.

Alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said Macedonia would be able to become NATO's newest member, provided the new name was approved in a referendum later this year.

He noted that the population of Macedonia must make your choice.

The pre-accession process is expected to last six to 18 months.

The agreement between Greece and its small northern neighbor still faces several hurdles — including constitutional changes and a referendum in Macedonia — before it becomes final.

According to the plan, the Macedonian army will have 6,800 soldiers.

The government was compelled to act when Russian funds allegedly were provided specifically to support protests that took place after the foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia signed the deal, the Greek official said.

Greece has expelled two Russian diplomats suspected of meddling in the delicate Macedonian issue in a rare dispute between the two Orthodox Christian nations. Athens feared that newly independent Macedonia might claim territories gained by Greece following the Second Balkan war in 1913. Moscow was informed about the move on July 6. Officials further stated that they would mirror whatever actions Greece took against them, and followed up by announcing that they were going to expel two Greek diplomats.

Kathimerini said Greek authorities were investigating whether the Russian diplomats had meddled in Greece's internal affairs and quoted diplomatic sources as saying the suspicions were exclusively focused on those four individuals.

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