Defence Minister Radmila Shekerinska in a visit of the Air Brigade: the presence of Stoltenberg, Merkel and Kurz – a strong support for Macedonia

Defence Minister Radmila Shekerinska visited today the Air Brigade in the Joint Operational Command of the ARM. During the visit, the Minister was briefed on the operational readiness and mobility of the Air Brigade, which was increased after the return of four helicopters that were overhauled.

Minister Shekerinska was briefly acquainted with the technical capacities of the helicopters and the possibilities for them to be used for basic purposes, as well as for transporting materials for support of the civilian population in natural disasters.

Expressing satisfaction with the increased number of operational helicopters in the Air Brigade, the Minister pointed out that in the previous period they were not only waiting for NATO’s invitation, but they were actively working on obtaining and fulfilling the conditions for full membership in the Alliance.

“Today we are here because four helicopters have already returned overhauled, two transport and two combat, and they additionally increase the combat readiness and operability of our army. This shows that in the past period we did not sit down and wait for a NATO invitation, but we really worked for it to finish with membership in the Alliance. This week we also announced the new competition for 8 military pilots and I urge all young people who are attracted to the possibility of such a prestigious career, to apply”, the Minister said.

Shekerinska underlined that the world supports Macedonia and that this is the first time that a NATO Secretary General is visiting for the second time in a year a country that is not yet a member of the Alliance. “If in January, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, with his visit, showed that Macedonia has the chance to receive the NATO invitation if we take that chance, I would like to see this visit as a symbol, as evidence, as an example, that Macedonia can become a member state of the Alliance”, the minister said.

Shekerinska also said that the prime ministers of Austria and Germany, Sebastian Kurz and Angela Merkel, will visit in the coming days, and that this shows that the world appreciates what is happening in Macedonia and that it gives strong support to our two strategic goals – EU membership and NATO membership. “However, the decision is in our hands. On 30 September, Macedonia has a chance, its citizens have a chance, with their voice to ensure that Macedonia becomes the 30th member state of NATO”, Minister Shekerinska said.

The first two Mi-24 combat helicopters returned from overhaul several weeks ago, and the two Mi-8 transport helicopters arrived on Monday (September 3rd). Two other Mi-8 transport helicopters were overhauled in the last year. Aircraft overhaul of the ARM Air Brigade is only part of the continuous measures undertaken to improve the conditions and strengthen the capacities of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia.