Representatives of the main religious organizations in Macedonia congratulated Zoran Zaev on the signing of the NATO accession protocol.

The Macedonian Orthodox Church and the Islamic Community of Macedonia were among the organizations who Zaev said congratulated him on the move during their meeting on Wednesday, adding that the religious groups believe NATO will bring lasting peace in the region.

We agreed that we need to respect the secular character of the country, as provided in the Constitution, and that we should improve and advance religious rights, Zaev said after the meeting.

Meanwhile Damon MacWilson from the Atlantic Council of the US, who recently organized a discussion with Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, announced that the Macedonian Orthodox Church will be the next to be recognized by the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. Bartholomew recently went on a collision course with the largest Eastern Orthodox Christian church – the Russian church – when he recognized the newly unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

After Patriarch Bartholomew recognized autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, next up is Macedonian and then Montenegrin Orthodox Churches, MacWilson tweeted.

Both churches are trying to become independent from the Serbian Orthodox Church, which has blocked their attempts to establish themselves as fully independent. Serbia could count on Greek support to block the autocephaly of the Macedonian church during the long name dispute, but with the Prespa treaty it is possible that the Ecumenical Patriarch would recognize the Macedonian church, albeit under a different name.