The prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, lauded NATO’s decision to invite the tiny Balkan nation to begin accession talks, describing it as a “big bang.”
Speaking to reporters at the NATO summit in Brussels, Zaev called on the citizens of his country to join in the celebrations – over the invite extended by the alliance – in 15 cities across the tiny Balkan nation.
He described NATO’s invitation as “a great success” for FYROM, which will become an ally of the “world’s most powerful [countries].”
NATO has said the successful conclusion of the accession process is contingent on the ratification of the name deal with Greece.
To this end, Zaev called on his country’s citizens to vote yes “for the future of Macedonia” in the forthcoming referendum.
Moreover, speaking to the BBC, Zaev said that North Macedonia – the country’s new name under the deal – will be used domestically and internationally as Greece wanted and in return a Macedonian identity has been recognized.
However, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis slammed both the name deal and the Greek government Thursday in Parliament, saying that it “gave” Skopje the name Macedonia and a Macedonian identity.
“This is a double disgrace,” he said.
For his part, the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos, has said the deal will never be passed in the Greek Parliament.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its dismay at the invitation, saying that “the sucking into NATO by force of Macedonia only confirms that the policy of ‘open doors’ has become an aim in itself and a tool to gain control of geopolitical territory.”