"Russia trying to meddle in Balkan countries joining NATO"

He was speaking on the day the newly-named Republic of North Macedonia signed a pact that will pave the way for the country to join NATO, Euronews said in its report, cited by Tanjug on Thursday.

"Russia tries to meddle, Russia tries to interfere in political processes in sovereign nations. And I think that's wrong. NATO respects, we respected decisions by independent sovereign nations regardless [of whether] they wanted to join NATO or they don't want to join NATO," Stoltenberg said.

According to him, in Skopje, "we've seen that the majority in the parliament, the majority of the political parties wanted to join NATO." On the other hand, Serbia doesn't want to join the alliance, he pointed out.

"But in Serbia, for instance, they clearly stated they don't want to join NATO and we respect that. So Russia should respect the decisions made by sovereign nations, even if they want to join NATO even though they don't want that," Stoltenberg said.

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