NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov on Wednesday signed an accession protocol at the alliance’s Brussels headquarters, bringing the Balkan nation one step closer to joining NATO.
“This is a historic occasion,” Stoltenberg said, adding that FYROM’s accession would bring “more stability to the Western Balkans,” and, “We have waited for you to join our family for a long time.” The NATO chief also said he was “really impressed by the political courage, by the political will, [and] by the commitment of both the government in Athens and the government in Skopje.”
Dimitrov, for his part hailed a “historic day,” adding that the outcome was “the result of the work of many generations.” NATO membership would secure “peace and stability” for his country, he said.
The signing ceremony marks the start of a ratification process that could take several months. Greece will be the first country whose MPs will be called upon to ratify the protocol with a vote expected in the House on Friday.
Ahead of the vote, which is all but certain to pass, the leader of Independent Greeks (ANEL), Panos Kammenos, said in a tweet on Wednesday that Article 5 of the NATO accession protocol cedes Greek sovereignty and as such must be ratified with a 180 majority in the 300-seat Parliament or else its approval by a simple majority will be unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, the writing is on the wall for the survival of ANEL’s parliamentary group, with the expected departure of its MP Thanasis Papachristopoulos, who will either be expelled on Thursday by Kammenos during Thursday’s emergency meeting or resign after the accession protocol is ratified.
His seat will go to Terens Quick, currently deputy foreign minister. If Quick refuses the seat, he will effectively deprive the government of its newly acquired majority of 151, which will drop to 150. If he takes it he will threaten ANEL’s cohesion, as its parliamentary group will drop below the minimum of five MPs.