Strains Emerge in North Macedonia’s Alliance With Turkey
As part of the anti-Gulen purges that followed the 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has called on North Macedonia and other Balkan states to close educational establishments allegedly affiliated with the Gulen movement and demanded greater action against it.
After North Macedonia failed to act on Turkey's request, Ankara withdrew from the bilateral agreement on mutual recognition of university diplomas in 2017.
Turkey has not given up on its campaign. General Akar used his visit to North Macedonia to "again" remind the authorities there that "Turkey and North Macedonia should work together against FETO for the sake of bilateral relations between the two countries".
Three days after the visit, on April 6, Akar's counterpart in North Macedonia, Radmila Sekerinska, confirmed that government policy towards so-called Gulenists could well influence the dynamics of Turkey's ratification of North Macedonia's NATO ratification protocol.
If Turkey makes the "fight against FETO" a condition for supporting North Macedonia's NATO membership, a potential shift in traditionally friendly relations may occur.
The issue with the so-called FETO represents only one of three challenges for North Macedonian-Turkish relations, however.
Turkey was the second country to recognise North Macedonia's independence in 1991 and the first to do so without reservations concerning Macedonia's identity, language and former constitutional name, Republic of Macedonia - which Greece strongly disputed.
North Macedonia and Turkey have since signed numerous bilateral agreements advancing cooperation in diplomacy, economy, trade, culture, defence and security.
Ankara has also been one of the strongest supporters of North Macedonia's NATO membership. It was...