NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised North Macedonia’s journey towards European and transatlantic integration during a visit to Skopje on Monday (3 June 2019), saying: “NATO membership will bring greater security and prosperity for all the people of North Macedonia.” At a press conference with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Mr. Stoltenberg also highlighted that foreign investment in North Macedonia has increased over threefold in the last year, saying “security is the foundation of prosperity”.
Mr. Stoltenberg praised the courage and determination shown by both Skopje and Athens to resolve the country’s name issue through the historic Prespa Agreement. He said he looked forward to welcoming North Macedonia as the thirtieth member of the Alliance: “Throughout NATO’s history, our open door policy has been a success, strengthening our Alliance and contributing to Euro-Atlantic security. You will soon be part of that success.” He urged the country to continue reforms, including on rule of law, security and intelligence, and in the defence sector, saying “Continuing the pace of reforms is important, as you prepare for full membership. We will continue to support you on this path.”
The Secretary-General arrived in Skopje on Sunday with the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s decision-making body, which includes the ambassadors of all 29 Allies. This is the first-ever visit to North Macedonia by the Council, which held a joint meeting with members of the government to discuss progress in accession preparations, reforms, as well as the situation in the region.
While in Skopje, Mr. Stoltenberg is meeting with President Stevo Pendarovski, Prime Minister Zaev and the President of the Assembly Talat Xhaferi.