US Secretary Mattis praised Prime Minister Zoran Zaev for European and NATO ambitions in his remarks i, but also echoed NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg’s words: “‘we are ready to welcome your country as NATO’s 30th member,’ should you choose that path.”
The Department of Defense reports that Secretary Mattis praised Macedonia, calling it a “stabilizing force” on his “lightening visit” to Skopje. He met with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, President Gjorgje Ivanov and Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska.
The Washington Post reported, “Mattis condemns Russian influence-peddling in Macedonia.”
The Wall Street Journal covered the story from Athens and New York emphasizing Prime Minister Zaev denying Russian involvement in Macedonia:
“The Russian Federation is a friend of Macedonia, and has nothing against Macedonia’s accession to the European Union. They are against our participation in Nato, and they say that clearly,” Mr. Zaev told reporters.
“We are trying to explain that for us there is no alternative to full membership in the EU and NATO,” he said. “We want to build friendly relations with all countries, including the Russian Federation.”
Voice of America: “He said he had ‘no doubt‘ that Moscow had given money to pro-Russian groups to defeat the vote about changing Macedonia’s name.”