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Russia slams NATO approaches during pandemic as counter-productive to unifying agenda

The reaction from the Foreign Ministry came in the wake of North Macedonia’s accession to NATO

MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. NATO’s course towards its enlargement is only creating new dividing lines while the world needs unity in the fight against the coronavirus, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday in the wake of North Macedonia’s accession to the alliance.

"It is obvious that Skopje’s accession to the alliance brings no added value to European, regional or national security. This step surely does not contribute to unifying the efforts to fight common threats and challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic. It will only be creating dividing lines," the statement reads.

The attempts to "make this event pompous and reverberating" have proven to be futile due to the deteriorating situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s Foreign Ministry pointed out.

"Amid the state of emergency declared in the country, the leaders of North Macedonia nonetheless did not miss the opportunity to pompously declare the historic nature of the accession to NATO, which allegedly guarantees Skopje’s stability and security. Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov even called the membership in the organization ‘the behest of fathers and grandfathers,’" the statement runs.

However, what was left unnoticed was the fact that North Macedonia’s accession to the alliance almost coincided with the date of the start of NATO’s bombings of the former Yugoslavia, the Russian Foreign Ministry recalled.

From the time of signing the Prespa agreement with Greece in June 2018, North Macedonia’s integration into NATO was accompanied by numerous procedural and legislative violations, the ministry said.

In particular, in compliance with the national legislation, the turnout at the referendum on the accession to the European Union and NATO on September 30, 2018 proved to be insufficient to deem it valid. Moreover, the cases of various kinds of interference into the country’s internal affairs, up to blackmail and intimidation, were observed, the statement says.

"All this passed unnoticed by our Western partners who are usually quite sensitive about the peculiarities of observing legislative procedures," Russia’s Foreign Ministry stressed.

Price of security

North Macedonia has failed to provide up to now any clear substantiation for the country’s accession to NATO, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

"The local population is getting promises of economic growth, higher investment attractiveness and the strengthening of the law-governed state. But for this purpose, it is absolutely unnecessary to join the military and political bloc. However, they are demanding already now that Skopje increase defense spending and the amount of purchases of Western, primarily American, armaments and hardware. This is the price, which the Macedonian people will have to pay for giving up sovereignty in the military and political area and not only in that sphere," Russia’s Foreign Ministry added.

The alliance "is far from always able to provide reliable protection for its members and even to stop long-standing disputes between themselves: it has learnt to skillfully sweep them under the rug," the ministry pointed out.

"We expect Skopje to confirm in compliance with the established procedure that it assumes the North Atlantic alliance’s commitments in line with the documents signed with Russia, in particular, the 1997 Founding Act and the 2002 Rome Declaration," Russia’s Foreign Ministry concluded.