FYROM can only join NATO if it implements the name deal with Greece, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Tuesday, 2nd of October, adding pressure on Skopje to ratify the agreement despite protests from opposition parties.
Stoltenberg spoke on the eve of a meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers in Brussels, two days after a referendum on the name deal in Skopje had a very low turnout.
Talks on FYROM’s accession to NATO are ongoing and might be completed in 2019, said Stoltenberg.
Only a third of the electorate showed up to vote for the referendum, which, fell short of the necessary 50% turnout in order to make the vote valid. The country’s parliament is set to vote on the deal in the coming weeks.
According to Ekathimerini, Moscow also hinted that it could veto the deal at the United Nations Security Council, as the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the low referendum turnout made its outcome null and void, adding that the conclusions of negotiations between Athens and Skopje could end up being discussed at the UN Security Council.
Zaev must draw another 11 votes to receive the 80 he needs to push the name deal through FYROM’s Parliament and pave the way for his country’s accession to NATO and the European Union. But political opposition to the deal remains strong.