- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A pair of senators on Wednesday introduced a bipartisan resolution supporting the name change agreement between Macedonia and Greece, which has put the tiny Balkan country on the path to NATO and European Union membership.

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Ron Johnson Wisconsin Republican, and Chris Murphy Connecticut Democrat, sponsored the resolution, which also condemns Russian interference.

For almost 30 years the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has argued with neighboring Greece over its name because Greece has a province named Macedonia. In June, the countries signed a historic agreement to change Macedonia’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

The change is subject to a referendum. If ratified it would allow the newly minted North Macedonia to join NATO and the EU, eliminating what security analysts consider a vulnerable gap in the western Balkans for Russian activity.

“I applaud Macedonia and Greece for coming to an agreement that resolves the name dispute and allows Macedonia to move forward and join NATO,” Mr. Johnson said in a press release. “This is a positive development, not only for these two nations, but for the region as a whole.”

Russia, however, has already been caught attempting to stoke opposition to the referendum, leading Greece to ban four Russian diplomats.

“Putin will stop at nothing to foster divisions between countries in Europe and the Balkans,” Mr. Murphy said. “This agreement helps set the stage for a stronger NATO and EU, and we must now work together to show Russia that its illegal interference in other countries’ affairs won’t work.”

Senators Marco Rubio, Florida Republican; Chris Coons, Delaware Democrat; Edward Markey, Massachusetts Democrat; John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican; Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat and Jim Risch, Idaho Republican, supported the resolution.

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