Saturday, June 09, 2007

Macedonia may receive invitation for NATO membership in 2008 – this is a great challenge, not unattainable though

Solomon Passy, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in an interview with FOCUS News Agency:

FOCUS: Mr. Passy, you accepted the proposal to occupy the post of ‘special advisor’ of the Macedonian government and you will help Macedonia in the process of the country’s NATO integration. What do you expect of the future work?
Solomon Passy: I accept this assignment as a great challenge. I believe Macedonia now is much closer to NATO than it has ever been, but I know the final steps are often the hardest, as was the case with Bulgaria. As I told Macedonian Prime Minister I intend not so much to give advice as to share the hard and sometimes bitter experience of Bulgaria on its path towards NATO. I accept my appointment as advisor as a great recognition of the experience Bulgaria gained in its efforts to integrate to NATO.

FOCUS: What is the role of Bulgaria in Macedonia’s North-Atlantic bent?
Solomon Passy: Bulgaria started signing agreements for North-Atlantic partnership with the countries from the region before it became a member state. The government of the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII) believed we were obliged to share with the countries from the region the experience we had gained the same way our neighbours shared their experience with us. This is mandatory for good neighbourly relations, which is one of the main conditions for joining NATO and the European Union.

FOCUS: Mr. Passy, you are one of the founders of the Atlantic Club in Macedonia.
Solomon Passy: The Atlantic Club in Macedonia was established more than 10 years ago. I am really happy the people who established it now rule the country. I think there is something symbolic in this – the people from the Atlantic Club have the mission to get the country to NATO.

FOCUS: When do you think will the countries from the Adriatic – Macedonia, Albania and Croatia be invited to join NATO? Do you expect this to happen at the summit of the alliance in Romania next year? Will the three countries enter NATO separately or together?
Solomon Passy: I really hope the three do what’s necessary to receive invitation for NATO membership. I don’t think it would be a good sign if they enter separately, but then each one should make proportionate efforts. As for Macedonia joining NATO I think one of the important terms is the country’s political dialogue and I think the Macedonian government is well-aware of that fact.
If they work hard and cooperate well with Albania and Croatia the three countries can receive invitation in 2008. The task is a great challenge, but it is in no way unattainable.

FOCUS: What will be the first advices that you will give?
Solomon Passy: I had a one-hour talk with PM Nikola Gruevski today as well as with the defense minister, I will also meet with the foreign minister. My first task is to see how far things have gone, what the expectations of the Macedonian government are and in which areas I can be of use. Then I would be able to give advice. I think people like me should work with all state institutions – with the government, the president, the parliament and the opposition.
I would like to note my role is neither to interfere in the Macedonian internal affairs, nor to mess with the two countries’ bilateral relations conducted by the two foreign ministries. I want to be well-meant in helping Macedonia’s joining NATO. I think Macedonia is our sister that deserves the same efforts we make for Bulgaria.

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