The Slovenia Times

Slovenia ratifies North Macedonia's NATO Accession Protocol


The ratification was welcomed by Talat Xhaferi, the speaker of the Macedonian parliament, who addressed the Slovenian legislature after the vote as part of a two-day visit to the country.

Most of the deputy factions announced they would vote in favour of the protocol, citing its contribution to stability and security in North Macedonia, the broader region of the Western Balkans and in Europe.

However, the opposition Left and National Party (SNS) voted against arguing that they opposed NATO as an imperialist organisation and that membership would not benefit Macedonian citizens.

Matej Tašner Vatovec from the Left said the protocol's ratification went contrary to the will of Macedonian people as demonstrated through a low turnout in the referendum on the Prespa Agreement.

The party believes the agreement changing Macedonia's name to North Macedonia had been forced. He said that NATO membership would lead to higher defence spending and to underdevelopment, arguing that export of democracy in NATO was synonymous with expanding the interests of its exporters.

SNS leader Zmago Jelinčič said that the emergency session today was called "following the US's dictate" to ratify the protocol, while the row with Italy over the foibe victims comments was unimportant.

The SNS also believes that Macedonia was coerced into the Prespa Agreement, and that the loss of its name marks the beginning of an end of the country, which they believe will be gone in a decade.

In his address to parliament, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said that by ratifying the Accession Protocol only days after its signing in Brussels and after the Prespa Agreement between Macedonia and Greece that paved the way for Macedonia's name change and accession to NATO came into effect, Slovenia wanted to send out a "strong message, a strong message of support for North Macedonia".

Cerar said that Slovenia was always and would always remain a friend of North Macedonia, that it supported its advancement on the path to the EU and NATO, also by heading NATO Liaison Office in Skopje, while the Slovenian Embassy in Macedonia's capital served as NATO contact embassy.

The foreign minister also noted Slovenia's technical assistance to Macedonia in support of its reform effort as part of its accession to NATO and assistance "in the expectation of the July launch of accession talks with the European Union".

He described Slovenia as a "traditional and determined supporter of open door policy" and "advocate of Euro-Atlantic integration of Western Balkan countries".

The prospect of EU and NATO membership contributes to the region's development, security, stability and prosperity, so Slovenia had been endeavouring for North Macedonia's earliest possible accession to NATO throughout, Cerar said, adding today marked the start of a new chapter of cooperation between the countries in the alliance.

MPs from the parties voting in favour of the protocol mostly spoke about its importance for the peace and prosperity of the region.

In addition, Andrej Šircelj from the opposition Democratic Party (SDS) also called on Macedonia to tap into the increased economic potential created through NATO membership and greater security and stability.

In his address to the assembly, Xhaferi expressed his gratitude for the ratification on behalf of the parliament and people of North Macedonia.

"The Slovenian nation and Slovenia have thus reaffirmed their amicable but also principled relationship to Macedonia and its citizens," he said, adding that his two-day visit reaffirmed the friendship between the two countries based on mutual respect and their sharing the values and principles of united Europe.

After Macedonia struck the name deal with Greece and a friendship agreement with Bulgaria, Xhaferi pointed to the relationship between Belgrade and Prishtina as the only remaining unresolved issue in the region, which he said Skopje hoped would be resolved soon, along with the functionality of Bosnia-Herzegovina authorities.

The law ratifying the protocol will come into force on the 15th day after its release in Slovenia's Official Gazette.


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