by Mitch Hulse
"NATO membership for countries in the Balkans and for Georgia is crucial for the stability of Europe and will send a clear signal that Russia does not have a veto over the alliance’s enlargement plans, panelists, including officials from Macedonia and Georgia, said at the Atlantic Council on June 8.
“The accession process into NATO has strengthened not only our military efficiency but also our society and democratic institutions in Macedonia,” said Zoran Jolevski, Macedonia’s defense minister. He spoke at a conference hosted by the Atlantic Council on “The Future of NATO Enlargement and New Frontiers in European Security.”
Greece blocked Macedonia’s accession into NATO at the alliance’s Bucharest summit in 2008 over a controversy rooted in historical dispute. Greece refuses to recognize the full constitutional name—the Republic of Macedonia—of the Balkan state. The Greek government sees the name as an indirect attempt at laying claim to the northern part of Greece, which is also known as Macedonia. NATO has sought a mutually acceptable solution before Macedonia can proceed down the path to accession."