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Stoltenberg: It's not up to Russia to decide about Macedonia's NATO accession

It's only up to Macedonia and the 29 NATO members to make decisions about the country's membership into the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

At a news conference a day ahead of a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels, when asked to comment on remarks of the Russian Ambassador to Macedonia that the country could become 'a legitimate target' in times of conflict as soon as it joined the Alliance, the NATO Secretary General responded: "The whole idea that Russia will not accept some countries to join NATO is an idea of spheres of influences where powerful forces control smaller states. It contradicts everything NATO stands for."

According to him, it is the right of every nation to pave its own path and security treaties since it is 'a fundamental principle for NATO.' Russia, Stoltenberg said, has pledged to follow the principle according to several agreements, including the 1974 Helsinki Accords. 

"It is up to Skopje to decide about its own path and whether it wants to join NATO. Macedonia and the 29 NATO allies are the only ones that decide about this and no one else has their say in the process," NATO head Stoltenger said answering a question by MIA's correspondent in Brussels.

He said he welcomed the progress made in the name talks, MIA reports.

The invitation extended to Macedonia to join the Alliance still stands, Stoltenberg mentioned.

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