A former NATO spokesperson says the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to North Macedonia is an important sign of re-engagement with the Balkans.
Professor Jamie Shea, now with the Friends of Europe Think Tank, told Euronews’ Good Morning Europe that for too long the US had been disengaged from the strategically important area.
Since ratifying its name-change following a public referendum, the Republic of North Macedonia has been invited to join NATO and also now has more realistic ambitions to eventually join the European Union. Both possibilities had been blocked by a dispute with Greece about the name of the small country.
Professor Shea said all of the recent developments, including Pompeo’s visit, were positive:
“The name change was a good sign that even the most intractable problems in the Balkans can be solved with inspired political leadership and support of the international community. It’s also a good sign for places like Kosovo which has a difficult relationship with Serbia.
“It’s positive that North Macedonia has now been invited to join NATO and that this should be ratified early next year.
“Pompeo’s visit is a sign of US re-engagement; Russia ostensibly tried to interfere in the referendum North Macedonia held on NATO membership, which passed overwhelmingly and also in the recent election campaign to try polarise the opinion.
“It was a wake up call that the region was not exactly falling into the west’s lap. Therefore it’s important that the US shows that it’s interested, that it cares, that it’s back in the game."