NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the accession talks with Macedonia will continue, as long as our country decided to. But the only way for the country to become a member, as he stressed, is to implement the Prespa agreement.
Slobodanka Jovanovska from Nezavisen Vesnik: How do you see the decision of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE to openly boycott the referendum, and does you statement mean that NATO is not giving up from Macedonia’s membership and the accession talks will continue?
Stoltenberg: The accession talks continue with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as long as your country wants to continue those talks and as long as you are implementing the name agreement. And we stand ready to welcome your country as a new member of the alliance with an equal seat around the NATO table, with a full membership and also with all the benefits that NATO membership will provide to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Because we have seen before that NATO membership is important for security, stability, but also for prosperity. Latest example is Montenegro, where investments have doubled since they joined NATO. It’s for Skopje to decide the way forward. It was a clear majority in favor of the name agreement, in favor of joining the EU and NATO in the referendum, but at the same time the turnout was not as high as many had hoped. This is a consultative referendum, and the necessary changes in the constitution have to be made by the parliament, again that’s for the parliament and for the people of the country to decide. What I can say, is that the only way to join NATO is by agreeing and implementing the name deal with Greece. There is no other way. So I’ve seen that some have indicated the possibility of rejecting the name agreement, and at the same time, join NATO. That will not happen. That alternative doesn’t exist. So, it’s for the people of the country and the parliament in Skopje to decide. But it’s my obligation to make it absolutely clear that there is no way to join NATO without fully implementing the name deal. We are ready to welcome you, but of course you have to implement the deal./ IBNA