NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to ratify the name deal signed by the two countries in June.
In an interview to Kathimerini, Stoltenberg said NATO cannot force any country to do something it doesn’t want, but expressed confidence that the agreement will be implemented in Greece and FYROM.
“It is essential for the national credibility when a country signs an agreement and the other party delivers then both parts will deliver on the agreement. Anything else will seriously undermine the national credibility of any country,” he said, adding that he “strongly believes” the deal will be ratified by both countries in accordance to the timetable outlined in the deal.
“Meaning that this can happen quite early next year,” he said.
FYROM will hold a referendum to ratify the deal, renaming it “North Macedonia,” on September 30. Stoltenberg noted that if the deal is not ratified and FYROM does not proceed with changes to its constitution as stipulated in the agreement, it will not be able to join NATO.
He expressed certainty that Skopje will not go back on its commitments after it joins the alliance. “What we have seen is that, countries have joined NATO, joined the European Union and they have respected their obligations, they have fulfilled their commitments and I m absolutely certain that this will be the case here, because its in the interest of Skopje and its in the interest of Athens but also whole of Europe that they solve this.”
With regard to Greek concerns over the possibility of conflict with NATO ally Turkey, Stoltenberg said “the main role of NATO is to be a platform for trying to reduce tensions, address the difficulties and help to facilitate dialogue and direct contact between Turkey and Greece.”