NATO’s principle for enlargement has created misunderstandings and illusions for some countries that consider NATO the place that either offers security or prestige or even both. It has created misunderstandings because the FYROM Slavs feel that their membership was guaranteed “as is” without changing their modus operandi; it has generated illusions because the FYROM believes that NATO membership is going to boost their national pride. The statement of theGreek Prime Minister that “all Balkan countries would join the EU in 2014,” the so-called Balkans 2014 project, also created great misunderstandings and illusions. Immediately after the announcement, the FYROM Prime Minister declared the Project Skopje 2014, assuming that Skopje’s EU membership was also guaranteed.
While the strategic goal of all Balkan countries is NATO membership, it does require a series of achievements of certain political and military preconditions, as well as military, economic,and security criteria. On the other hand, one could pose the question, “what could FYROM have to offer to the Alliance, considering their Defense budget is insignificant?”
Before any country is considered a NATO member, it has to fulfill certain political criteria over and above those that NATO requires; the political preparation of the candidate country has to abide by NATO Enlargement Study and Accession Process, Ch. 5, para. 72, which expects the prospective members to have met OSCE requirements before NATO even considers preconditions and criteria for membership.