Stoltenberg spoke after meeting the country's top leaders Monday, the last day of a two-day visit accompanied by 29 ambassadors to the alliance's top decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council. NATO member states and North Macedonia signed an agreement clearing the way for membership after the country officially changed its name from "Macedonia" in February. Greece had blocked its neighbor's NATO membership since 2008, saying use of "Macedonia" implied territorial claims on its own northern province of the same name and usurped ancient Greek heritage.
Fourteen NATO members have ratified the accession. The country can join once the remaining 15 also do so.