Monday, April 6, 2020

Map: North Macedonia Joins NATO

Map of NATO allies in 2020, with all members including the newest country to join, North Macedonia (colorblind accessible).

Graphic modified by Evan Centanni from this map by Wikimedia user Addicted04 (CC BY-SA).

New NATO Ally: North Macedonia

Southeastern Europe's Republic of North Macedonia has been admitted as a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Its membership officially went into effect on Friday, March 27, and a welcoming ceremony was held at the organization's headquarters the next Monday. North Macedonia is the 30th country to join NATO.

Membership had been promised to the country in exchange for striking a compromise in its dispute with NATO member Greece, who argued that the neighboring country was falsely claiming ownership of Greek history. Part of the deal, finalized in February 2019, was changing the country's name from "Republic of Macedonia" to "Republic of North Macedonia" - softening the implication that it's the heir to the ancient kingdom of Macedonia, which was mostly located in what's now Greece.

Flag of NATO/OTANOrganization Name:  
• North Atlantic Treaty Oganization (English)
• Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord (French)
• NATO (English)
• OTAN (French) 
Founded: 1949 in Washington, DC, United States
Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium
Related: "North Macedonia" Vote Not All About Country Name

North Macedonia was also recently given the green light to begin the process of joining the European Union (EU) - a promise that had also been made to it in exchange for the Greece deal, but which had been repeatedly delayed, with consequences for the country's domestic politics.

What is NATO?

Created by Western European and North American countries after World War II, NATO is a military alliance that guarantees cooperation between all its members at times of war. Though famous for the "collective defense" clause in its founding treaty, which legally obligates member countries to come to each other's aid if one of them is attacked on home soil, it also involves many other kinds of military cooperation.

Member countries participating in NATO's military command structure have joined forces in many international operations in recent decades, but the obligation to defend each other from attack has only been activated once ever. That was in response to the 9/11 attacks in the US, when the member countries provided military support to help prevent further attacks. NATO's participation in the war in Afghanistan came soon afterwards, but wasn't directly triggered by the collective defense clause.

During the Cold War, NATO was seen mostly as a unified defense against potential attacks by the Soviet Union (USSR), leading to the creation of the rival Warsaw Pact between the USSR and its communist allies in Eastern and Central Europe. But after the fall of the European communist governments at the end of the 1980s, and the breakup of the USSR in 1991, NATO has expanded eastward. Today, most of the former Warsaw Pact countries have become part of NATO, though the countries that emerged from the USSR itself - except for the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) - have not.

Flag of North Macedonia Official Short Name:  
• North Macedonia (English)
Severna Makedonija (Macedonian)
• Maqedonia e Veriut (Albanian)
Official Long Name:  
• Republic of North Macedonia (English)
• Republika Severna Makedonija (Macedonian)
• Republika e Maqedonisë së Veriut (Albanian)

Recent NATO Expansion

NATO was founded in 1949, and many countries have been members ever since then, or since soon afterwards. Twelve ex-communist countries joined the alliance in the decade from 1999 to 2009, but in the past ten years there have only been two more additions: Montenegro in 2017, and North Macedonia last month.

Both of these countries were formerly part of communist Yugoslavia, which broke apart in 1992, though Montenegro didn't actually become independent until 2006. NATO also includes fellow ex-Yugoslav countries Slovenia and Croatia, but not the remaining pieces of former Yugoslavia - Bosnia, Serbia, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo.

This is the first article in PolGeoNow's planned ongoing coverage of NATO membership. To check for future updates and related pieces, you can view all NATO articles on PolGeoNow.

Graphics of the NATO flag (source) and the North Macedonian flag (source) are in the public domain.