The Lithuanian parliament (Seimas) unanimously ratified on Thursday North Macedonia's NATO accession protocol. All 92 MPs attending the session voted in favor.
© AP / Scanpix

Lithuania is the eighth NATO member state to have approved North Macedonia's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"We are glad that Lithuania is among the first NATO allies to ratify the protocol of the accession of North Macedonia, the last member of the so-called Vilnius Ten Group that has not joined NATO yet," Linas Linkevičius, Lithuania's foreign minister, said in a statement.

Lithuania, a small Baltic country with a population of less than 3 million, joined NATO in 2004. The Vilnius Ten Group, founded in May 2000, includes Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

"Hopefully, our countries will successfully cooperate in addressing international security challenges after North Macedonia becomes NATO's 30th member," said Linkevičius.

In his address to Lithuanian lawmakers before the vote on Thursday, Linkevičius noted that "North Macedonia had actively participated in NATO operations".

The vote in Seimas was attended by Talat Xhaferi, speaker of the Parliament of North Macedonia. He thanked Lithuanian lawmakers for ratifying the accession protocol.

"We are aware of the obligations that arise with fully fledged NATO membership. If necessary, we will stand alongside all other NATO member countries," Xhaferi said at a press conference on Thursday.

In July 2018, North Macedonia was invited to begin accession talks with NATO member countries. The country joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program in 1995.

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