Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Radmila Shekerinska, and Geneviève Darrieussecq, Minister of State, attached to the Minister for the Armed Forces of France, visited today the French Military Cemetery in Bitola, where they laid wreaths in honour of the soldiers who lost their lives here in the First World War. The visit to the cemetery is part of the joint marking of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, to which the new Memorial Complex dedicated to the French soldiers was opened.
Speaking to the audience, Minister Shekerinska said that this event from the joint history of the two countries deserves respect and that it is a reminder of a common duty to learn from the past. We, as representatives of our governments and ministries of defence have the greatest responsibility to guarantee and affirm the values of peace, unity and coexistence, emphasized Shekerinska.
The Minister said that the First World War is an unsurpassable historical topic both in Macedonia and France and that the joint marking is a confirmation that the two countries both then and now are on the same side – justice and freedom. The fact that the Republic of Macedonia is today only a step away from NATO is a modern proof that we, in this region, have learned the lesson well. That is why French support is important for us now to fulfil our strategic goal of NATO membership, which is the best guarantee of stability and peace, the Minister added.
The French cemetery in Bitola has existed since the end of the First World War in honour of the soldiers who died on the Macedonian front. The Cultural Heritage Protection Board has recorded this event on the agenda of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, noting that it is a matter of common historical events that took place on the European continent.
Tonight, at a ceremony at the residence of the French embassy, Shekerinska will be decorated with the National Order of Merit of France. The high decoration on behalf of the President of the Republic of France will be awarded by Geneviève Darrieussecq, Minister of State. The National Order of Merit of France is awarded for distinguished civil achievements, and was founded in 1963 by General De Gaulle. Shekerinska receives this recognition because of her special contribution to the development of the relations between Macedonia and France, and because of her commitment to promote European citizens’ values in Macedonia.