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11:30 29 Jun 2022

President of Northern Macedonia says russia is still a threat to Western Balkans: situation is "fragile"

russia's threat to the Western Balkans, which has existed in recent years, is still dangerous today

The President of Northern Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, who arrived at the NATO summit on Thursday, stated this, the EP correspondent from Madrid reports.

Pendarovski stressed that the war in Ukraine exacerbated the hybrid threats that Northern Macedonia had faced in recent years.

"We have been facing these hybrid threats coming from russia since 2018, since our referendum on changing the name, when we voted to change the name of the country, in a referendum to join the Alliance," he said.

Pendarovski believes that the threats to the region have not disappeared and called on the allies to be careful and pay more attention to this issue.

"Everyone knows there are still fragile moments in the region: the issue of northern Kosovo, Republika Srpska. We need to be more careful; not only the Western Balkans but all NATO countries need to pay more attention to these fragile issues. Otherwise, destabilization may begin somewhere," the President of Northern Macedonia warned.

The Asian Times reported that North Macedonia, the newest member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), joining in March 2020, boldly joined sanctions on russia despite being heavily reliant on russian energy supplies. In the lead-up to NATO accession in 2020, russia constantly challenged North Macedonia and even threatened that in the event of a possible military flare-up, North Macedonia would be a "legitimate target."

President Stevo Pendarovski has been in power since May 2019 and is bidding to bring North Macedonia into the European Union. With 79% of the North Macedonian public favoring EU membership (International Republican Institute's poll), it would pull the new country closer to the West and further from russia.

In February, the North Macedonian leader called russia's invasion of Ukraine "an attack on the democratic order and a threat to the stability of Europe." On March 28, his nation joined several other European countries by expelling russian diplomats from Skopje.

The day before, following the talks in Madrid on Tuesday, Turkey agreed to unblock the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO.

On June 29, the leaders of NATO member states are due to take a formal decision to invite Finland and Sweden to join the Alliance.

We should note that the NATO summit in Madrid is taking place on June 29-30.

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