Relations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia¹

  • Last updated: 11 Jul. 2018 19:27

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia aspires to join NATO. Support for democratic, institutional, security sector and defence reforms are a key focus of cooperation. The country actively supports the NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and works with the Allies and other partner countries in many other areas.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev


  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace in 1995.
  • The country joined the Membership Action Plan in 1999.
  • At the Brussels Summit in July 2018, Allies welcomed the historic agreement between Athens and Skopje on the solution of the name issue and invited the government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join NATO. Full implementation of the agreement on the solution of the name issue is a condition for a successful conclusion of the accession process. Allies also urged further progress on important reforms before and after the accession process.
  • For many years, the country has provided valuable support to NATO-led operations and missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

More background information

  • The road to integration

    The Allies are committed to keeping NATO’s door open to Western Balkan partners that wish to join the Alliance, share its values and are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership. Euro-Atlantic integration is seen as the best way to ensure long-term, self-sustaining security and stability in the region.

    The Membership Action Plan (MAP) is a NATO programme of advice, assistance and practical support tailored to the individual needs of countries wishing to join the Alliance. Participation in the MAP does not prejudge any decision by the Alliance on future membership.

    At the April 2008 Bucharest Summit, Allies agreed that an invitation to join the Alliance will be extended to the country as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the issue over its name has been reached with Greece. This agreement has been consistently reiterated at subsequent Summits.

    At the July 2018 Brussels Summit, Allied leaders welcomed the historic agreement between Athens and Skopje on the solution of the name issue. In line with their policy, they decided to invite the government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join the Alliance. Full implementation of all prescribed internal procedures with respect to the agreement on the solution of the name issue is a condition for a successful conclusion of the accession process.

    The Allies continue to encourage and support the continuation of reform efforts within the country, particularly with a view to ensuring effective democratic dialogue, media freedom, judicial independence and a fully functioning multi-ethnic society.

  • Key areas of cooperation

    Security cooperation

    An important focus of NATO’s cooperation with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is to develop the ability of the country’s forces to work together with forces from NATO countries and other partners, especially in peacekeeping and crisis-management operations. Participation in joint planning, training and military exercises within the framework of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme is essential in this regard. Moreover, in 2013, the country’s Public Affairs Regional Centre in Skopje was recognised as a Partnership Training and Education Centre, opening its activities to Allies and partners.

    The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia deployed troops in support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from 2002 to end 2014. Following the completion of ISAF’s operation at the end of 2014, the country is currently supporting the follow-on mission (‘Resolute Support’) to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces.

    The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was a key partner in supporting NATO-led stabilisation operations in Kosovo in 1999 and NATO forces were deployed to the country to halt the spread of the conflict as well as to provide logistical support to the Kosovo Force (KFOR). The Allies also provided humanitarian assistance to help the country deal with the flood of refugees from Kosovo. The country continues to provide valuable host nation support to KFOR troops transiting its territory.

    NATO came to the assistance of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, when violence between ethnic Albanian insurgents and security forces broke out in the west of the country in February 2001. Insurgents had taken control of a number of towns near the border with Kosovo, bringing the country to the brink of a civil war. NATO facilitated the negotiation of a ceasefire in June of that same year, which paved the way for a political settlement – the Ohrid Framework Agreement – in August 2001. In support of the settlement, NATO deployed a task force, “Essential Harvest”, to collect weapons handed over by the insurgents, as they prepared to disband. The NATO-led international monitoring mission continued to operate in support of the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement until 31 March 2003, when the European Union assumed the lead.

    A  NATO military headquarters created in Skopje during the operational period has since been downsized and transformed into a Liaison Office which assists with security sector reform and host nation support to KFOR.

    Defence and security sector reform

    The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has initiated wide-ranging reforms that NATO is supporting. In the areas of defence and security sector reform, NATO and individual Allies have considerable expertise that the country can draw upon. In consultation with the Allies, the country continues to implement a broad range of reforms in line with its Strategic Defence Review.

    The country’s participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process facilitates cooperation in this area. The Allies have assisted in the development of a transformation plan for the country’s armed forces. The plan includes detailed programmes covering logistics, personnel, equipment, training and a timetable for the restructuring of key military units. Other key objectives include improving ethnic minority representation in civil/military defence structures and judicial and police reform.

    The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia joined the Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC) in 2005. The OCC is a mechanism through which units available for PfP operations can be evaluated and better integrated with NATO forces to increase operational effectiveness.

    Through participation in the Building Integrity Programme, the country is working to strengthen good governance in the defence and security sector. This Programme seeks to raise awareness, promote good practice and provide practical tools to help nations enhance integrity and reduce risks of corruption in the security sector by strengthening transparency and accountability.

    The country is also working with NATO to promote the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, which recognises the disproportionate impact that war and conflicts have on women and children. UNSCR 1325 calls for full and equal participation of women at all levels in issues ranging from early conflict prevention to post-conflict reconstruction, peace and security.

    Civil emergency planning

    The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is enhancing its national civil emergency and disaster-management capabilities in cooperation with NATO and through participation in activities organised by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. In consultation with NATO, a national crisis-management system has been established to ensure that the structures in place serve effectively and efficiently in the case of a national crisis.

    Security-related scientific cooperation

    The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been actively engaged within the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme since 1998. The SPS Programme enables close collaboration on issues of common interest to enhance the security of NATO and partner countries. By facilitating international efforts, in particular with a regional focus, the Programme seeks to address emerging security challenges, support NATO-led operations and advance early warning and forecast for the prevention of disasters and crises.

    Today, scientists and experts from the country are working to address a wide range of security issues. Recent activities have focused in particular on cyber defence and counter-terrorism, but there are also SPS projects and training courses u