Sunday, 18 November 2018 | News today: 0

81 percent of Macedonians support NATO and 68 percent – EU membership

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The highest priority for Macedonian citizens, in terms of security, is the integration of the country in NATO and the European Union, a poll conducted by the Faculty of Security in Skopje. The poll shows that over 81 percent of the participants supported NATO membership. Asked about EU membership, the numbers are significantly lower, but still well over half of all Macedonians, 68 percent, support EU membership, while 32 percent said they are against.

The poll was conducted by the Faculty, over 1.167 citizens in 37 municipalities.

– What is crucial for the citizens is NATO membership, but this will include financing defense reforms and an increase in the military budget. Macedonian citizens were also very positive about the agreement on strategic partnership between Macedonia and the United States, signed in 2008, and see this partnership as crucial for the security of the country, unlike possible alliances with Russia, India or China. Some of the persons polled either didn’t recognize or have never heard about the possibility of alternative partnerships, which only underscores the fully Euro-Atlantic orientation of the citizens, and the institutions of the country regarding the security policy, the analysis complementing the poll says. The poll was conducted before the September NATO Summit in Wales.

Citizens who took part in the poll believe that NATO membership will mean more security, a more modernized Army, will decrease the threat of foreign attack and will bring more foreign direct investments. A small percentage of those polled said that NATO membership would mean loss of national identity for the Macedonian people, loss of sovereignty and independence and will mean that the country will be forced to change its name.

In the past, different polls would routinely find Macedonian support for NATO and EU membership over 90 percent. But, years of blockade on the part of Greece over the name issue, the 2008 Greek veto for NATO membership, and the dramatic economic meltdown of Greece have dragged these numbers down a bit. Macedonians generally understand that membership in these two institutions would most likely also mean a painful concession on the name of the country, which Greece demands as condition of membership.