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Macedonian PM Says Joining NATO Will Assure Peace in Balkans   

Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, speaks at the Western Balkans Summit in London, Britain, July 10, 2018.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev says the entire Balkans will have prosperity and lasting peace when Macedonia joins NATO.

Zaev spoke in Sofia, Bulgaria Monday — two days before Macedonia signs the accession protocol at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

"Macedonia has been waiting for 27 years to become a member of NATO. Zaev said. "Today, Macedonia has the hope of having open doors."

Greece had blocked Macedonia's efforts to join NATO and the EU because of a long-running dispute over the use of the name Macedonia — shared both by a historic region of northern Greece and the former Yugoslav republic.

Both countries agreed that the country will change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. It plans to start promoting itself by that name when Greece approves its membership in NATO.

All 29 NATO members must ratify Macedonian membership before it can join.

Membership talks with the EU are expected to begin later this year.