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Macedonia could join NATO by early 2020 if it implements an agreement with Greece to rename itself North Macedonia, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer has said.

Speaking in Sarajevo on Tuesday, Palmer said that Macedonia could become the 30th member of NATO “as early as in 18 months from now.”

According to the official, that is “an entirely realistic target date.” Palmer voiced concern over what he described as Russian “malign influence” in the Western Balkans.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in October that the US orchestrated an “unfair vote” in the Macedonian parliament which approved the country’s name change, despite a failed popular referendum.

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