UMD Statement on NATO Protocol Signing for Macedonia

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), a proponent of Macedonia’s NATO membership under its 1991 constitutional name – the Republic of Macedonia – reiterates its position that Macedonia’s accession to NATO is long overdue and should have occurred more than ten years ago when NATO was slated to invite Macedonia at the 2008 Bucharest Summit.

Today’s NATO protocol signing by 29 member-states in Brussels is a decade overdue and under the shadow of a toxic Prespa agreement.

Even in 2008, Macedonia met the requirements for NATO membership, including a then 2.17 percent in defense spending, participated in every NATO mission, maintained the 4th largest troop contribution to ISAF in Afghanistan, hosted the NATO Logistical Support Center in Kosovo and time and again exceeded its commitment to the U.S. and NATO allies.

Instead, the reward it received was the U.S. and NATO allies allowing Greece to veto Macedonia’s NATO membership, violating international law as per the 2011 International Court of Justice decision in Macedonia v. Greece.

A decade later, Macedonia was forced to sign and ratify the unconstitutional and hugely unpopular Prespa Agreement. Both the Macedonian and Greek leadership have disregarded the widespread protests against the name change decision, and continue to accept the worldwide support of leaders who know nothing about the history between Macedonia and Greece.

UMD acknowledges the low-turnout at the national referendum held in September 2018, asking voters whether they support EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement struck between Macedonia and Greece, in June 2018, and how it does not represent Macedonians as a whole. Additionally, the burning of the Macedonian flag during the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn protests in Athens is all very disappointing, but not surprisingly, continues to be overlooked by both governments.

UMD believes NATO membership and its secure territorial integrity and borders will lead to a more stable future for Macedonia, but it cannot be ignored that Macedonia’s leadership has conceded too much; too much of the Macedonian pride, history, culture, language, and even, people.

Greece’s history of whitewashing and systematic cleansing needed to be recognized, and with the Prespa Agreement as it was begun through the acknowledgement made by the Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, at the Greek parliamentary debate. However, he did not acknowledge the implications of Macedonia being forced to change its identity. It is a human rights violation; a violation of Macedonia’s right to self-determination, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

UMD continues to urge Macedonia’s leadership to recognize the domestic issues Macedonia is facing. These issues will only continue to worsen if nothing is done. Issues such as unemployment, nepotism and corruption among government and public administrations, decrease in media freedom, jailing citizens based on unproven charges, the massive exodus of its population, and alarming air pollution are problems that must be addressed.

It is time to start thinking about the future of the people, not just the country itself.