North Macedonia Becomes NATO's 30th Member

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The Balkan country joined the alliance, having deposited its certificate of admission to NATO at the US State Department. The entry of North Macedonia into NATO has long been hindered by a dispute with Greece over the name. NATO has accepted North Macedonia as its 30th member. This Balkan state joined NATO, having deposited a certificate of admission to the alliance at the US Department of State, NATO said on Friday, March 27. A flag-raising ceremony for North Macedonia is set to take place in front of NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 29. The dispute with Greece over the name has long prevented the accession of a small Balkan state with a population of only 2.1 million people. Athens feared that a state called “Macedonia” could present territorial claims against the Greek province of the same name. Only after Skopje agreed in June 2018 to change the name of the country to North Macedonia, the obstacle to joining NATO was removed. “North Macedonia is now part of the NATO family of 30 nations and almost 1 billion people. The Alliance is based on the certainty that, no matter what challenges we face, we are all stronger and safer together,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared. NATO’s eastward expansion North Macedonia became the 14th country to join NATO after the end of the Cold War. Most of these countries were previously part of the Soviet sphere of influence. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Moscow sought cooperation with NATO, however, the rapid expansion of the alliance to the east made relations between the parties more and more complicated, AFP agency notes. Recently, NATO has focused on the admission of the Western Balkans countries, a region in which Russia is trying to strengthen its influence. In June 2017, Montenegro was admitted to the alliance. Croatia and Albania joined NATO back in 2009. In 2004, NATO in one fell swoop took over Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. In 1999, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary became the first states of the former Eastern Bloc to join the North Atlantic Alliance.