28 March 2020
On 27 March 2020, North Macedonia deposited its instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty with the US State Department in Washington DC., thereby becoming NATO’s newest member. NATO member states signed North Macedonia’s Accession Protocol in February 2019, after which all 29 national parliaments voted to ratify the country’s membership (Spain being the last to do so last week).
Speaking in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “North Macedonia is now part of the NATO family, a family of thirty nations and almost one billion people. A family based on the certainty that, no matter what challenges we face, we are all stronger and safer together“.
A flag-raising ceremony for North Macedonia will take place at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on 30 March 2020.
North Macedonia is using NATO’s Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS) to coordinate its national response to the COVID-19 crisis and to provide its public with real-time information and advice. In 2019, North Macedonia adopted the NICS system to coordinate all parts of government in the event of an emergency. Experts from the Crisis Management Centre in North Macedonia have now quickly adapted the system to enhance the country’s response to the coronavirus. The public website can be found here: http://nicspublic.cuk.gov.mk
After gaining independence, one of the strategic goals of the country was to join NATO, as first stated in 1993, and thereafter the country developed close cooperation with the alliance, joining NATO’s Partnership for Peace in 1995. In 1999 the formal membership path was initiated at the Washington Summit together with other former Soviet bloc members, notably the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. But the way forward to join NATO was blocked for years by Greece, as part of a demand that Macedonia change or modify its name to avoid any claim to the territory and ancient heritage of the region in northern Greece named Macedonia. A 2018 agreement between the two nations led to Macedonia becoming North Macedonia, and Greece ended its objections to NATO membership. North Macedonia currently spends about 1.4% of its GDP on defence, but it is still far from the prescribed 2% of GDP required by the alliance.
North Macedonia has also begun the formal application process to join the European Union.