WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), co-chairs of the NATO Observer Group, issued the following statement ahead of Sunday’s referendum where the Macedonian people will vote on a change to their constitution that will clear a path toward NATO accession. The Senators’ remarks echo statements made by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany:
“As the Macedonian people prepare to vote in this weekend’s referendum, we wish to send them a message that the U.S. Senate NATO Observer Group stands ready to welcome you should you choose to join the most successful military alliance in history,” said the Senators. “The NATO Observer Group will work closely with our government and the government of the future Republic of Macedonia to expeditiously shepherd the country’s accession protocols through the Senate process. The Macedonian people have long been on a path toward prosperity and security and have faced many hurdles along the way. On Sunday, however, it will be their choice and their choice alone to decide how to proceed. We hope that every voice will be heard—free from outside pressure or foreign influence—on this incredibly important vote.”
Senators Tillis and Shaheen re-established the Senate NATO Observer Group earlier this year with an expanded mission to closely monitor and inform Senators outside of national security committees about defense spending commitments of Alliance members, the process of upgrading military capabilities, the Alliance’s counter-terrorism capability and the ability of NATO member states to address non-conventional warfare. Senators Tillis and Shaheen are both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.