Northern Macedonia becomes part of the North Atlantic alliance

(To Stefano Marras)
07/02/19

The agreement was signed on Wednesday 6 February between the representative of Macedonia and the ambassadors of the 29 member countries of the alliance, thus making the small state of the Balkans the thirtieth member of NATO. The agreement will now have to be ratified by the individual parliaments, a process that will take about a year. Until then, Northern Macedonia will not be an effective member of the alliance but will be able to participate in the various NATO activities as "invited".

Opposed by Moscow that accused the West of "destabilizing" the Balkans, the entry of Northern Macedonia was possible thanks to the conclusion of the dispute lasting 27 years between Skopje and Athens on the name of the small Balkan country (then called Macedonia) and that Greece has never accepted for historical / cultural reasons and for fear that there was some kind of territorial claim on the northern province of Greece.

Although the accession of the small Balkan republic within the North Atlantic alliance does not fundamentally alter the balance of power between the West and Russia, it clearly highlights the willingness and ability of NATO (read the United States) to continue its expansion in the Balkans , and Russian disability to stop or at least limit the process. This policy, however, can only raise doubts about its long-term results in relation to relations between the West and Russia. If indeed the military power of NATO has guaranteed the safety of the European continent for well 70 years, its continuous expansion in the territories adjacent to Russia is seen as a threat to national security by Moscow, thus causing a chain reaction that threatens to further worsen the already critical relations between the alliance and Russia.

Northern Macedonia does not share with Russia, and has never been part of that chain of buffer countries, which from the Baltic States to Central and Eastern Europe for a long time constituted the Russian security hinge against possible Western aggression. The value for Moscow is in fact more historical-cultural than strategic, being present in the Balkan region numerous nations of language and ethnicity save, and of Orthodox religion, including the same Northern Macedonia. Cultural affinities that however do not seem to confer more influence on Russian power in the region, contrary to the nineteenth century when Moscow used them as a workhorse in the broader conflict against the Ottoman Empire (see Russo-Turkish War 1877-1878).

Photo: NATO