NATO – beyond its scope of competencies and criteria for membership in the case of the Republic of Macedonia!

Some within the domestic context insist that a few days ago a historic turn has taken place for the Republic of Macedonia at the NATO Brussels Summit by declaring the accession talks as open. In paragraph 63 of the NATO’s Brussels Summit Declaration, there is a formulation and precondition for the successful termination of the accession talks. Granting full-membership is conditioned that reads as follows: ” Full implementation of all prescribed internal procedures with respect to the agreement on the solution of the name issue” ( See, Others consider that the current Government of the Republic of Macedonia is exaggerating with the achievements since an invitation for the Republic of Macedonia to join NATO has been already extended at Bukuresht Summit in 2008, with a precondition to “mutually resolve the name issue” with Greece. (See,

Both abovementioned decisions issued by NATO subsequent to the Brussels and Bukuresht summit stress on a resolution to the name issue with Greece as the additional condition for membership.  The difference is that the Brussels Summit Declaration opens accession talks, but their successfulness is attached to the full implementation of the controversial “Name Agreement” signed in Prespa this June by both Greece and Republic of Macedonia. Implementation of this agreement encompasses entire constitutional, legal and administrative re-naming of the Republic of Macedonia to “Republic of North Macedonia”. A major legal consequence is that such re-naming has the erga-omnes effect or “towards all”, and is not only in regards to the internal usage but bilateral and multilateral as well. (See:

Political discourse in the country following the signing of this controversial agreement has been packed with tensions and animosity. However, the purpose of this short commentary is not to analyse the political discourse, which is highly bi-polarized and could be identified as outright propaganda by the two opposing sides. A discourse or rhetoric that is a direct result of the name agreement, to which NATO refers in the abovementioned paragraph of the Brussels Summit Declaration. Notably, the division along the agreement is to those who oppose it and those who promote it as the best solution.  What is very much problematic within the Macedonian context is the complete lack of debate and discussion, based on objective and impartial critique, that is taken over by a highly idealised position on the agreement on the one side, and nationalistic rhetoric by another.  Either way, both opposing sides attempt to dominate the public opinion through approaches of personal attacks and propaganda.

The dispute between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia is a legal and political precedent in the international community. It is important to emphasize that is of bilateral character and not of multilateral one. This division is important since NATO as an organization is a multilateral regional organization. Hence, my positioning mainly will be focused on looking at the normative and authoritative decisions related to UN and NATO, and particularly ICJ judgement. By discussing whether NATO as a regional organization could impose additional conditions for admittance to membership.

Accession to NATO represents admittance to the membership of an organization which is different from the recognition of states mostly being a bilateral act. Membership in an organization is subject to previously prescribed formal rules which are mainly enshrined in the treaties establishing the said organization. In the case of NATO, this represents the North Atlantic Treaty Organization known as well as the Washington Treaty( ). Washington Treaty is based and enshrines the principles and purposes of the UN Charter for maintenance of peace and security, resolution of disputes in a peaceful manner and refraining of use of force in international relations. These are the qualitative criteria for membership. Procedural criteria are included in the Article 10 and 11  respectively and involve: unanimous decision to invite other European states to membership, depositing the instrument of accession to the US as being the repository of the treaty and the ratification of the Washington Treaty in accordance to the various constitutional practices. The substantive criteria precede the procedural.

In the case of the Republic of Macedonia by virtue of the controversial name agreement whereby the country is required to carry out entire constitutional, legal and administrative “makeup” NATO includes both substantive and procedural additional criteria for membership. Membership and admission to the organization involve processes that encompass formal and previously prescribed (with the treaty of the Organization) legal procedure(s) which should reaffirm the equality of states in acquiring the sought membership. Therefore, the problem and the controversy of imposing additional conditions for membership to NATO and UN respectively arises (Janev, 1999).

In addition to the Washington Treaty, NATO’s operation ideally should be in agreement with the UN Charter. Ideally, because there have been examples when NATO has acted in the contravention of the UN Charter (examples: Kosovo and Lybia). NATO has been established for the purpose of reinforcing collective security, previously declared by the UN as such, and for exercising the right of collective self-defence in the case of armed attack. Description of what is as an armed attack in contravention to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, out of which the right to self-defence is triggered and justified could be found despite in the Washington Treaty, in the UN General Assembly Resolution 3314.  This short background attempts to give an insight of the interrelatedness between NATO and UN in the system of collective security.  Despite that is manifested through the UN Charter Chapter VII that is related to the undertaking of collective coercive measures with an authorization of the Security Council is related by the virtue of Chapter VIII and particularly Article 52. Any regional arrangements must be in compliance with the UN Charter.

Furthermore, here is the judgement by the International Court of Justice which is the principal organ of the UN and by that account it’s decisions authoritative both for UN and the regional organizations that are established in accordance to the UN principles and purposes. The said judgment by ICJ which is binding for both sides Republic of Macedonia and Greece has not been mentioned in the controversial name agreement and respectively any NATO decision. This judgement has affirmed that Greece has violated the Interim Agreement from 1995, by preventing our accession to the international and regional organizations (Press Release: In that direction, it is clear that NATO has moved beyond the prescribed criteria for membership in the case of the Republic of Macedonia as included in the Washington Treaty and disregarded the authoritative judgment of the ICJ.

One final remark which is quite relevant since elucidates the entire climate in the country is the fact that the propaganda plays a significant role in putting forward the controversial name agreement and the additional criteria imposed by NATO as the only and ultimate solution. A discourse mainly promoted by the Government and pro-government intellectuals, imposing to the public as an “ultimate truth” towards brighter future of the country. A constructed discourse that aims to play with the sentiments of the citizens by projecting the future is quite problematic due to several reasons. First, because it excludes any kind of dialogue by including the diversity of opinions and stakeholders. Second, that is proposing the “future” for the country full of unicorns and “truths” that are not discussed and tested in the public. Elements of totalitarianism according to Arendt include an ideology that has all answers to the society coupled with propaganda and presentation of “truths”, without at the same time allowing the plurality of viewpoints and opinions, could lead not only to complete erosion of the political space but as well to totalitarianism (Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism). Deteriorating the already very fragile internal situation whereby there have not been any substantive efforts towards justice, rule of law, fight against corruption and nepotism.

Jana Lozanoska

UN University for Peace, Costa Rica


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