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Stoltenberg, North Atlantic Council Visit NATO Hopeful North Macedonia

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

SKOPJE -- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has embarked on a two-day visit to North Macedonia, which is expected to become the next country to join the Western military alliance.

Stoltenberg arrived at Skopje International Airport on June 2, and will later be joined by ambassadors from the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s main civilian decision-making body.

During the visit, they plan to discuss the reform process in North Macedonia with the country’s leadership.

In February, Skopje signed a protocol that could see the former Yugoslav republic become the alliance's 30th member if the move is ratified by all 29 NATO allies.

The signing was made possible after Skopje and Athens settled a decades-old name dispute through a compromise that changes Macedonia's moniker to the Republic of North Macedonia, thus allaying Greek fears of any claim to its region of Macedonia.

So far, 13 member states of the alliance have ratified the Accession Protocol. On June 3, Stoltenberg and the ambassadors will attend a meeting of the North Atlantic Council and North Macedonia’s Committee for NATO Integration.

Stoltenberg will also hold talks with President Stevo Pendarovski, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, and parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi.