Minister Shekerinska on a meeting with the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly: France will strongly support Macedonia in NATO

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Radmila Shekerinska held an official meeting in Paris with France’s Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly. The official meeting between the Defence Ministers of Macedonia and France is taking place for the first time in a decade. The meeting focused on the cooperation between the two ministries and the situation in our country and the region.

During the talks Minister Shekerinska emphasized the expectation that our country will soon become a full member of NATO and will begin the EU membership negotiations. “My Government has invested heavily in the process of joining NATO. We have shown results in domestic reforms, including a defence plan, but we have also embarked on open bilateral issues”, Shekerinska said.

She added that the process of accession talks with NATO has been completed and that the Programme for the continuation of reforms will be submitted in a few days, and in parallel the process of constitutional changes is underway in the Assembly, which was also supported by part of the opposition.

“France is a very important partner for the Republic of Macedonia, but our country has invested insufficiently in this partnership, and we later felt disappointed that there was no visible interest, neither for the activities, nor for support to the Republic of Macedonia. However, we wanted and we showed that we are turning a new page. We approached our French counterparts, we showed results in our domestic reforms, we showed a new style in relation to our neighbours and we showed that the Balkans can be of European values. It has been recognized and support has not been lacking”, Minister Shekerinska said after the meeting.

French Minister Parly welcomed the progress in the country and said that France supported Macedonia on its path to full-fledged NATO membership. She assessed the deal with Greece as a major breakthrough in regional relations and called on both sides to support it and allow its full implementation. Minister Parly expressed satisfaction of the contribution of ARM members to NATO’s “Resolute Support” mission and stressed France’s interest in the participation of Macedonia in UN and EU peacekeeping operations. She positively assessed the internal reform processes for fulfilling the set criteria for Macedonia’s membership in the EU and NATO.

The meeting was preceded by an official welcome by the Minister of the Armed Forces of France, Florence Parly, and Secretary of State, Geneviève Darrieussecq, with the highest military honours, the intonation of the Macedonian and French anthem and the muster of the Republican Guard and the ceremonial guards of all branches of the Armed Forces of France.

In Paris Shekerinska also met with the Chairman of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed forces, Christian Cambon, and held meetings with other senior defence and security officials.

Minister Shekerinska was awarded the French “National Order of Merit” in May. This decoration, founded in 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle, is awarded for distinguished military or civil achievements. She received the award for her outstanding contribution to the development of relations between Macedonia and France, as well as her commitment to promoting European civic values.