Skopje submitted formal accession papers on Friday, becoming the 30th member of the transatlantic military alliance. The move caps a week of EU diplomacy allowing North Macedonia to begin EU accession talks.
North Macedonia on Friday officially joined the NATO military alliance.
"The Republic of North Macedonia is officially the new, 30th NATO member," the government in Skopje said in a statement. "We have fulfilled the dream of generations."
From NATO headquarters, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared: "North Macedonia is now part of the NATO family.”
It was a family of 30 nations and almost 1 billion people "based on the certainty that, no matter what challenges we face, we are all stronger and safer together,” Stoltenberg added.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said a long journey had finally come to an end.
"North Macedona's NATO accession increases security and stability across the Western Balkans and is a sign of NATO's open-door policy, which contributes towards freedom, democracy and human rights," he said.
The final step
Earlier on Friday, North Macedonia had deposited its "instrument of accession” at the US State Department in Washington — the final formal step.
It represented the "culmination of many years of effort by the government and people of North Macedonia,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Last year, North Macedonia changed its name from Macedonia to settle a long-running row with NATO and EU member Greece.
Athens had made that a condition if Skopje was to join both organizations.
"We have waited for this day nearly 30 years,” tweeted North Macedonian Defence Minister Radmila Sekerinska. "Congratulations to all of us." A formal flag-raising ceremony is set to take place in Brussels on Monday.
ipj/rt (dpa, AP, AFP)