"The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia marked an important step on its road towards NATO membership on Thursday (18 October 2018), beginning two days of formal Accession Talks at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. The formal Accession Talks cover detailed aspects of membership, including political, military and legal questions," the statement published on the official website of the alliance read.
Earlier in October, the Macedonian government adopted a draft law on renaming the country to the Republic of North Macedonia following an agreement with Greece and a national referendum on the issue in September. The bill was passed to the parliament, which has up to 10 days to review it and announce its decision.
The agreement on changing Macedonia's name was signed by Athens and Skopje in June. The name dispute has been souring bilateral relations for years, with Athens opposing the use of "Macedonia," which is also the name of a region in Greece. If adopted, the new name will allow the republic to join NATO and the European Union, the process that Greece has been blocking over fears that the former Yugoslav republic might try to claim its region under the same name.