The Republic of Slovenia is ready to provide direct support to the Republic of Macedonia in the defence reform process and in the development of the key documents for development of the defence and the armed forces, such as the Strategic Defence Review – this was agreed at today’s meeting between the Defence Ministers of Macedonia and Slovenia, Radmila Shekerinska and Andreja Katič in Ljubljana.
“In serious efforts, such as NATO integration, there is no room for improvisation. Montenegro proved this when they asked for support from the Republic of Slovenia and received full-fledged membership. It was a wise move. Let me emphasize my satisfaction that Minister Katič expressed readiness for Slovenia to use the knowledge and experience given to Montenegro to help the Republic of Macedonia reach the long-awaited strategic goal. I am convinced that with such support, the chances of our country becoming the 30th NATO member-state are increasing”, Minister Sekerinska said after her meeting with Minister Katič.
The Slovenian Minister said that Slovenia would give Macedonia the same support it gave to Montenegro in the process of joining NATO. She added that Slovenia will help Macedonia in the development of all reform documents, especially the Strategic Defence Review. “The Western Balkans is a priority for Slovenia and the support we give for NATO and EU accession should be seen in that light. Therefore, we are happy to see that Macedonia managed to improve the relations with its neighbors in this short time” said Katič. The Minister supported the regional cooperation, especially in the context of the Balkan Medical Task Force, adding that they will support Macedonia’s candidacy for a lead nation (a framework nation) in this organization, following the expiry of Serbia’s mandate.
Minister Shekerinska said that the migrant crisis and the problems related to terrorism show how interdependent we are. “Slovenia’s security interests are defended in Macedonia as well, and Europe’s security interests are defended in the Balkans as well. Therefore, Macedonia’s interest to become a NATO member is also the interest of the entire region, and of Europe. It is an interest for common security” the Minister said.
She added that Macedonia is extremely committed to justifying the trust of its partners, including Slovenia, by fulfilling the planned reforms within the “3-6-9″ plan. Shekerinska stressed the importance of the Slovenian support in the drafting of the Strategic Defence Review as a key document that paves the trajectory for reform in the defence sector.
Minister Shekerinska, as an example of the excellent defense cooperation, underlined the current joint training of the ARM and the Armed Forces of Slovenia – the training of ARM members in Slovenia, which is under way, and the planned exercise, “Challenge 17″, to be conducted at Krivolak in October , along with 30 members of the Armed Forces of Slovenia.
Macedonian-Slovenian defence cooperation includes training and education of ARM members at high military schools in Slovenia. The countries are also part of a number of regional initiatives, such as the South East European Defence Ministerial Process (SEDM), the Balkan Medical Task Force, the Security Cooperation Forum etc.
In the framework of her stay in Slovenia, today Minister Shekerinska will also take part at Bled Strategic Forum, which is a leading conference in Central and Southeast Europe addressing issues related to changes and challenges in the world, the position of the European Union, the Western Balkans, human rights in times of change and digital diplomacy. Many heads of state and government, ministers and diplomats participate in the Forum.
Shekerinska will also have several bilateral meetings, inter alia, with the President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor and MEP Tanja Fajon. Tonight, Slovenian Minister Katič is organizing a working dinner with Minister Shekerinska and European Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini.
Tomorrow, Minister Shekerinska will meet with the President and members of the Defense Committee in the Slovenian State Word, and she will also visit barracks Cerklje, where members of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia are currently attending theoretical and practical aid defence training with the light portable missile system “Igla”.