- Friday, July 13, 2018 4:56 PM
Zagreb, 13 July 2018 (MIA) – Speaking after a meeting of Defense Ministers from the region with U.S. Secretary of State James Mattis in Zagreb on Friday, Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska said Macedonia would not allow Russia to obstruct the name deal with Greece.
The process of changing Macedonia's name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia has paved the way for the country to be formally invited to NATO, which NATO member-countries did on Wednesday and which Moscow is strongly against.
According to Hina, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it believed Macedonia had been forced into NATO and this move only deepened divisions and increased tension in Europe.
Meanwhile, Athens decided to expel two Russian diplomats and bar another two from entering the country on the suspicion that they tried to undermine the name deal reached in June.
"We have always said that we want to have good cooperation with Russia, but it's us who make decisions. Macedonia has decided," Sekerinska told reporters in Zagreb.
She added that she regretted the decision on the expulsion of Russian diplomats but added that the Macedonian government would remain alert and focused on the implementation of the agreement with Athens.
The agreement must be ratified by both countries, and a referendum on the matter is to be held in Macedonia late September or early October.
"The referendum and the decisions made will be to the benefit of citizens, and we will not tolerate any interference," Sekerinska said, adding that the delay of Macedonia's accession to NATO in 2008 caused a serious political, economic and financial crisis in the country.
"We will never allow that to happen again," Sekerinska said. mr/16:56
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