North Macedonia to take seat at NATO following name change

Sergio Conner
February 14, 2019

"At the end of the day we must show that we are implementing our part of the obligations", he said.

Workers remove a road sign that reads "Republic of Macedonia" as the other sign reads in Greek "Hellas-Greece" in the southern border with Greece, near Gevgelija, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.

Under the deal with Greece, the country's previous official name "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" passes into history, and with it the last vestiges of the now-defunct six-republic Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, which fell apart in a series of bloody wars in the 1990s.

Skopje will notify the United Nations about the name change in the coming days, when the use of it will start worldwide, according to a foreign ministry spokeswoman.

Macedonian workers pasted labels featuring the country's new name on a sign on February 13 on the border with Greece. Athens argued the name implied claims on the northern Greek province of Macedonia. "We can't change our past, but we can and we will shape our future of friendship, partnership and cooperation".

It could also mean that North Macedonia will be able to join Nato and the European Union.

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Despite opposition on either side of the border, the deal was ratified by both parliaments.

The accession protocol was signed last week in Brussels, but Macedonia will not have the right to vote and participate in key decisions until all 29 parliaments of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries have ratified it.

The small Balkans country changed its name from Macedonia on Tuesday.

A government press release said that changes will also be made to notice boards at airports, while the country's central bank will draft plans for replacing the circulating currency with the old one-word name.

While North Macedonia is not yet officially a NATO member - officials signed an accession agreement last week in order to pave the way towards membership - it is still permitted to sit at the NATO table as a guest.

All of NATO's 29 current members must ratify the accession agreement.

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