World

North Macedonia To Become Full NATO Member By Next Spring

The Republic of North Macedonia is expected to become a full member by next spring.

The former Yugoslav state has officially gained its new name as the Republic of North Macedonia, which means it can begin the official process of joining NATO.

Allies now have to ratify the agreement, which is expected to take around 12 months.

A NATO official said on Wednesday that the alliance expects the Republic of North Macedonia to be a full member by next spring. It will be the 14th country to join since 2004.

The country will have until 2024 to expand its defence expenditure to 2% GDP - the same as all other allies.

North Macedonia has wanted to join NATO for some time but was unable due to a 27-year-long row with Greece.

Greece had blocked Macedonia’s membership to NATO as they said the name implied territorial ambitions, because it used the same name as a neighbouring region in northern Greece.

The country celebrated on Tuesday with a flag-raising ceremony marking the occasion.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev then tweeted: "Long live the Republic of North Macedonia."

A NATO official confirmed that so far there has been “no indication of any problems of the ratification process”.

It was further added that the country holds similar values to that of the military alliance:

“It’s a country that holds our values, it has demographic standards and laws.

“We’ve seen that NATO has become stronger by bringing in countries as part of its enlargement.”

They went onto say that there are economic and security gains in bringing in North Macedonia.

The country has committed to a programme for continuation of reforms focussing in three key areas; the rule of law, defence reforms and intelligence and security services.

North Macedonia will continue to attend to all NATO meetings as an invitee.

Many of the newer member states, including Montenegro, have been sharing their experiences and advice on joining.