Macedonia will sign a long-awaited accession protocol with NATO today.
For three decades, Skopje has pushed for accession to the US-led defence block. In 2008, the Balkan country was invited to join the alliance, but was blocked by Greece due to a dispute over the former’s use of the name “Macedonia”; Athens claimed that the name suggested a territorial right to the northern Greek province of the same name.
On September 30 of last year, Macedonians voted overwhelmingly in favour of changing their country’s name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia in exchange for Greece’s permitting Macedonian accession to the EU and NATO, thus bringing the impasse to an end. Expect the country to formally join the alliance sometime in late 2019 or early 2020.
Moscow has reacted negatively towards the development, viewing the further expansion of NATO into the Balkans as threatening to its regional influence. However, given the relatively low stakes held by the West in the region, expect the Kremlin to test Western and Balkan resolve in the medium to long-term through campaigns aimed at inflaming ethnic and nationalistic tensions and sowing regional discord and distrust.
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Max is Foreign Brief's Chief Executive Officer. A Latin America specialist, Max is an expert in regional political and economic trends, focusing particularly on the Southern Cone.