North Macedonian members of parliament on Tuesday unanimously ratified an agreement to make their country a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). All 114 lawmakers present in the 120-seat parliament voted in favor, with none against or abstaining. By joining the NATO, North Macedonia are not simply joining an international organization. A NATO flag was raised in front of the parliament building during the short ceremony.
North Macedonia’s entry into the world’s most powerful military alliance had been blocked by Greece for a decade over a name dispute. But Greece dropped its opposition after the former Yugoslav republic agreed to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. The country was previously known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or simply Macedonia for short — a name it shared with a Greek province on its border, with both areas part of the historical region of Macedonia.
In return for renaming the country North Macedonia, Greece agreed to drop its objections to its neighbor joining NATO and the EU. North Macedonia and its neighbor to the west, Albania, hope to start membership talks with the European Union that were blocked in October by France and the Netherlands. North Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia are the only non-NATO members remaining in the Balkans, however it is important to remember that Bosnia is effectively a U.S. protectorate, while North Macedonia has been trying to join NATO since 1995 when Yugoslavia was completely destroyed in all but name.