The Senate on Tuesday voted in support of North Macedonia joining NATO, paving the way for the Balkan country to become part of the alliance.
Lawmakers voted 91-2 to make North Macedonia NATO’s 30th member, with only Republican Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul cancels DirecTV subscription after it drops OAN Trump slams Biden, voices unsubstantiated election fraud claims at first rally of 2022 Overnight Energy & Environment — Lummis holds up Biden EPA picks MORE (Ky.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSchumer ramps up filibuster fight ahead of Jan. 6 anniversary Juan Williams: The GOP is an anti-America party Manchin faces pressure from Gillibrand, other colleagues on paid family leave MORE (Utah) objecting.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames Elroy RischRepublicans say Mayorkas failed to deliver report on evacuated Afghans Ukraine president, US lawmakers huddle amid tensions with Russia Senate approves sweeping defense bill MORE (R-Idaho) said the vote “lays out a template that we show all the Europeans that they’re welcome, that the door is open, that we want them to join NATO.”
“The Russians hate this sort of thing, they absolutely hate an increase in the size of NATO, but we want the Europeans to be encouraged,” Risch told reporters Tuesday.
Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation Senators to meet with Ukraine president to reaffirm US support Equilibrium/Sustainability — Bald eagle comeback impacted by lead poison MORE (D-Conn.) called the vote “a signal of Congress’s commitment to stand with our allies to fight the Kremlin’s efforts.”
For more than a decade the small nation has sought to become part of NATO, but Greece since 2008 has blocked its membership bid over the country’s then-name of Macedonia.
Greece claimed that the name implied territorial control of a northern Greek region of the same name.
Athens and then-Macedonia finally came to an agreement that the latter would change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia, and in 2018, NATO members and North Macedonia signed an agreement on the switch, allowing it to finally gain membership.
Previously part of Soviet ally Yugoslavia, North Macedonia, was formally invited by NATO in July 2018 to start accession talks and 22 countries have since ratified its accession. Once the remaining seven NATO members also vote in favor, the country can join.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeRepublicans say Mayorkas failed to deliver report on evacuated Afghans Pelosi faces pushback over stock trade defense Overnight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate MORE (R-Ok.) urged other NATO partners to complete the ratification process quickly.
"Expanding and strengthening our alliances, like those with NATO countries, is key to our national security," Inhofe said in a statement.