NATO chief: Ready to welcome North Macedonia as 30th member

International

Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev, right, talks for the media during a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, following their meeting with 29 ambassadors of top Alliance body (North Atlantic Council) in Skopje, North Macedonia, Monday, June 3, 2019. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has arrived for a two-day visit to North Macedonia before this tiny Balkan country officially becomes the alliance’s 30th member by the end of the year. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance is ready to welcome North Macedonia as its 30th member, after the country ended a decades-long dispute with Greece.

Stoltenberg spoke after meeting the country’s top leaders Monday, the last day of a two-day visit accompanied by 29 ambassadors to the alliance’s top decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council.

NATO member states and North Macedonia signed an agreement clearing the way for membership after the country officially changed its name from “Macedonia” in February. Greece had blocked its neighbor’s NATO membership since 2008, saying use of “Macedonia” implied territorial claims on its own northern province of the same name and usurped ancient Greek heritage.

Fourteen NATO members have ratified the accession. The country can join once the remaining 15 also do so.

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