After the Greek parliament, with 153 votes in favor, ratified the Prespa Agreement between Macedonia and Greece, now, there are five left of the seven formal steps that separate Macedonia from full-fledged NATO membership.
The process, according to some announcements, should finish at the end of the year or early next year.
The first and second step, that is, the formal implementation of the Prespa Agreement in both countries ended – on January 11 in Macedonia and two weeks later – on January 25 in Greece.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the ratification of the treaty in Greek Parliament.
“The Prespa Agreement is an important contribution to the stability and prosperity of the entire region. I look forward to the future North Macedonia becoming a NATO member,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter.
The next step is for NATO to prepare a Protocol to the Washington Treaty on Accession for the new member. This is in fact an amendment to the original North Atlantic Treaty Agreement, signed in 1949.
Immediately after that, the fourth step begins, which is the ratification of the protocol, when each of the 29 NATO members has to ratify the protocol according to the national procedures. The procedure varies in each country. The process is expected to be completed by the end of the year, while Greece has announced that it will be the first to ratify the protocol.
During this ratification process, Macedonia is permitted to participate on a certain level in the processes of the Alliance. For example, Macedonia can participate in all forums and meetings, but without voting rights. Or, as Macedonian officials say, “they will get a chair at the NATO table”.
The fifth step is the formal invitation to join NATO, which will be sent to Macedonia by the NATO Secretary General after all States have notified the United States; the depositor of the agreement, that they have ratified the protocol.
In the sixth step, Macedonia will have to formally accept NATO accession – by referendum or by voting in Parliament. It then submits the accession decision to the US State Department, the “guardian” of the Washington Treaty, and officially becomes a NATO member.