Senate votes for North Macedonia to join NATO

Senate votes for North Macedonia to join NATO
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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 PaulSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Pelosi names first-ever House whistleblower ombudsman director The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (Ky.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' The 8 Republicans who voted to curb Trump's Iran war powers MORE (Utah) objecting.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischGOP lawmaker makes unannounced trip to northeastern Syria Lawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban Senators condemn UN 'blacklisting' of US companies in Israeli settlements 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.”

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“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 MurphyKerry responds to Trump accusation he violated Logan Act: 'Another presidential lie' Overnight Health Care: Senate panel to hold hearing on US coronavirus response | Dems demand Trump withdraw religious provider rule | Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan backlash Democratic senators urge Trump administration to request emergency funding for coronavirus response 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 InhofeGOP chairman after Africa trip: US military drawdown would have 'real and lasting negative consequences' Overnight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' Architect of controversial EPA policies to return as chief of staff: report 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.