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NATO has suggested Russia has tried to meddle and influence whether Balkan countries join the defense alliance.

Jens Stoltenberg, its secretary general, made the comments in an exclusive interview with Euronews in Brussels.

"Russia tries to meddle, Russia tries to interfere in [the] political processes in sovereign nations," Stoltenberg told Euronews on the day the newly-named Republic of North Macedonia signed a pact that will pave the way for the country to join NATO. "And I think that's wrong."

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"NATO respects, we respected decisions by independent sovereign nations regardless [of whether] they wanted to join NATO or [whether] they don't want to join NATO," Stoltenberg said.

He added that, in Skopje, the majority in the parliament and the majority of the political parties wanted to join NATO.

"But in Serbia, for instance, they clearly stated they don't want to join NATO and we respect that," NATO chief said.

"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 told Euronews.