NATO allies sign key FYROM membership protocol

NATO allies sign key FYROM membership protocol

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has taken a big step toward joining NATO after allies signed a key document that could see the tiny Balkans country become the 30th member of the world's biggest military alliance over the next year.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov led the “accession protocol” signing ceremony Wednesday at the alliance's Brussels headquarters.

Greece blocked FYROM’s NATO membership for a decade over a name dispute. Athens sees the former Yugoslav republic's name as a threat to its own administrative region of Macedonia.

The accession protocol must be ratified by all 29 NATO members. Greece is set to become the first to do so this week. FYROM will then start calling itself “Republic of North Macedonia” and will join under that name, possibly late this year or in early 2020. [AP]

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