“U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has praised Macedonia’s efforts to resolve its decades-old name dispute with Greece, saying he hoped the Balkan country would soon be able to join NATO.

‘We commend your work with Greece to resolve this issue and I am hopeful it will bear fruit soon,’ Mattis told Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska as she visited the Pentagon on May 1.

‘We don’t wish to see you stopped at NATO’s doorstep,’ Mattis said, noting that a ‘prudent decision’ was made at the Bucharest NATO summit in 2008 to invite Macedonia to join NATO “as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached with Greece.”

Mattis also applauded what he described as ‘Macedonia’s resistance to Russia’s malign influence in the Balkans,’ saying that he welcomed Skopje’s ‘continued leadership by example in this region.'” (RFE/RL)