At the press conference, the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Macedonia, Zoran Jolevski addressed what NATO means for the modern world and the strategic objectives of the Republic of Macedonia, including its NATO membership. “The North Atlantic Alliance is very important today in the preservation of world peace, the promotion of relations among nations, was prevention, promotion of human rights and the overall development of the countries,” the Minister stressed.
Minister Jolevski said that in 2016 Macedonia has proved itself as a leader in regional cooperation in the defence sector. Based on a decision adopted last year, the SEEBRIG HQ – South East European Brigade to be stationed in Macedonia in the period 2020 to 2027, the Headquarters of the Balkan Medical Task Force was opened in Skopje, which is the first regional organization with a permanent seat in Macedonia. The Minister also mentioned the Public Affairs Regional Centre, as a NATO partner centre. The Military Academy is developing its regional character – almost 1/3 of the cadets are from the region. In addition, this year Macedonia is chairing the A-5, and within period several initiatives will be proposed, such as using the A-5 cooperation as a means for stronger coordination of the regional training centres, and with this respect, using this regional organization for joint deployment of peacekeepers in UN missions.
From the perspective of the Republic of Macedonia, the Minister added that the long-standing contribution to NATO-led operations and the application of partner mechanisms since 1995 have contributed to the implementation of the defence reforms and have increased the national capacities. “We have built an army worthy of respect, an Army that is ready to fulfill its constitutional functions at all times and an Army that is operating equally with our allies in the international peacekeeping missions,” the Minister said, adding that the Army of the Republic of Macedonia has achieved the required interoperability and has met the criteria for NATO membership.
Jolevski emphasized that Macedonia continues to work on improving the capacities of the Army, and pointed to the ongoing process of modernization as an example. The investment of 317 million Euros for ten years has begun to bear fruit – there is an ongoing procurement of new equipment in line with NATO standards for the members of the Special Operations Regiment and the process of helicopter overhaul has started and is being implemented according to the planned dynamics. The Minister stressed that in terms of the budget, 20% of the funds for the defense this year is allocated for modernization.
“In the future ,Macedonia will continue to act constructively and take the necessary steps to protect its national security and the security in the region and beyond. I am confident that our efforts will be properly valued and that Macedonia will receive its long-deserved place as a full member of the Alliance, by which the Member States will demonstrate their serious approach to the security in the region ” concluded Minister Jolevski in his address.
The press conference among others also participated had the US Ambassador Jess Bailey, the Croatian Ambassador Danijela Barisic and the Spanish Ambassador Ramón Abaroa Carranza and the President of the Euro-Atlantic Council of Macedonia Ismet Ramadani.