On October 12, 2017, at the Washington Post, UMD President Metodija A. Koloski, via a Twitter-submitted question, asked the new U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison if she would be an advocate on Macedonia becoming NATO’s 30th member. Here was her response:
Ignatius: I know there’s a mission that’s heading out to Turkey next week from the State Department to try to talk through some of these problems. I have on our hashtag #SecuringTomorrow a question and just so people will know that we actually do look at these, I’m going to put it to you, although I’m not sure it’s at the top of your agenda. The question is whether you as our ambassador will advocate for Macedonia. I’m trying to remember the precise name that we used for Macedonia—to become the 30th member of NATO and more generally, I think that question carries the really fascinating issue of NATO expansion. An issue that the Russians keep reminding us that they regard as threatening. So Macedonia, A, but then on the broader question is NATO now a completed alliance or should we imagine that there’s a future in which other countries might be added?
Hutchison: Well, we have an open-door policy at NATO and you have to meet standards. You have to meet standards of democracy and you have to have a certain military capability and the debate—David, and you’re going to remember this, but the debate probably 10 or 15 years ago was, do we keep NATO small and compact and strong? Or after the breakup of the Soviet Union, do we reach out to the other countries and bring them in, even though that has a risk of then getting into a war with Russia? So which would be the best way? And the decision was made to have the open-door policy and to bring in the Balkans and the Baltics and to have standards that would make them stronger and what won the debate is that if we could have a standard of democracy and a standard of a military self-help and an understanding of a constitutional government, that those countries would be more able to defend themselves and last as democracies for the long-term.
And so the open-door policy won the argument. Rather than keeping it at 13 or 14, that it would go to now 29. And the open door is still there and the requirements are still there. Macedonia is the next one that could meet the task and I do support Macedonia. The problem is the name Macedonia has got to be acceptable to Greece. And because of that disagreement, there’s not a unanimous vote. But I think everyone is watching Macedonia and it’s in its requirements and it is meeting those tests. It has a little bit to go but I do think Macedonia, if they can—they say they’re close to an agreement on having a name and we would want them to be able to have the name they want in some form. But they have to have a unanimous consent and that is the sticking point right now.
But I think they’re very close. The United States does support them and I think if they can get that last domestic piece together and keep working toward that free election and strong government, that they will be the next member.