Macedonia sticks to NATO bid March 19, 2010Posted by Yilan in Macedonia, NATO.
Tags: Macedonia, NATO
Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said Wednesday that to join NATO would remain one of his country’s foreign policy priorities.
Gruevski told the visiting Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, Commander of NATO Joint Force Command Naples, that Macedonia is committed to achieving that end through its own reforms and contribution to NATO-led missions.
“We are trying to do what a member state should do, sharing and defending the common values and responsibilities,” Gruevski said.
He said Macedonia would send 80 more troops to Afghanistan this year. The small western Balkan country now has 164 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.
Fitzgerald praised Macedonia for its contribution to global and regional stability, saying that there was no obstacle from the military point of view for the country to join the alliance.
Macedonia’s NATO aspirations were thwarted at the club’s Bucharest summit in 2008 over a name dispute between Macedonia and its southern neighbor Greece.
Athens has been opposed to Macedonia’s name for the past 19 years, arguing that the name implicates territorial claims towards Greece’s own northern province of the same name.
The NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has recently called for a swift settlement of the name row between the two neighbors.
“Macedonia is strongly committed to the UN-sponsored process to find a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue,” Gruevski said.