With a High NATO Delegation in Skopje, led by James Mackey, head of the Euro-Atlantic & Global Partnership office at NATO, defacto accession negotiations for NATO membership begin, said NATO co-ordinator Stevo Pendarovski at a news conference today.

“We are very pleased that we have a NATO delegation that was created immediately after the decision was made in Brussels, which means that NATO is ready to respond immediately to the commitments it has been saying for years, and that is the so-called open door policy. They intend to fulfill their obligations, and we have to fulfill ours”, said Pendarovski.

He added that the delegation will discuss variant issues with relevant representatives from institutions related to the accession process.

“Of course, they will not discuss the political issue that is our homework, I am primarily talking about the Prespa Accord, but for everything else that is typical of accession negotiations with any candidate country. This means from military-technical issues to the legal and financial implications of our full membership in the alliance in the future”, Pendarovski said, adding that Macedonia will confirm that it is practically prepared for serious talks within this phase of the accession negotiations.

Pendarovski underlined that the bilateral agreement with Greece remains to be our precondition for full membership and expects the accession talks to end by the New Year.

Mackey said the delegation is here to work on the implementation of the decision taken at the Brussels Summit.

“This will be a long process in which we will have a series of talks that will be held with the ministries, with the Government of your country to become the 30th member of NATO. This means that political, financial, and security-related aspects and a number of legal contracts that need to be signed should be defined. We will also talk about the series of reforms that are already taking place in the country and those reforms that the Government will have to work on as part of the NATO accession process”, Mackey said.

He added that when the internal procedures that Pendarovski spoke of are completed and when the decision is approved in the national parliaments of the 29 NATO member states, the country will be able to become the 30th NATO member.

“Looking back on past experiences, we expect the entire process to last 18 months. It will be an intensive period, but we will be patient and expect to work with your government”, added Mackey.