Defense

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 Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah) objecting.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (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.”{mosads}

“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 Murphy (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 Inhofe (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.

Tags Chris Murphy James Inhofe Jim Risch Mike Lee Rand Paul

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