German Minister of Defence von der Leyen states after her meeting with Minister Shekerinska: Macedonia and Germany share the same values, let us continue build Europe together!

Minister of Defence of FR Germany, Ursula von der Leyen arrived today for an official visit to the Republic of Macedonia, a first visit of a Federal Defence Minister to Macedonia after 11 years.

After the meetings in the premises of the Ministry of Defence, Minister Radmila Shekerinska said that the frequent visits of the highest German leadership, Chancellor Merkel, Foreign Minister Maas and Minister von der Layen show that Germany is a genuine, steady and true friend of Macedonia.

Shekerinska stressed that the Macedonian-German friendship is long-lasting and that Macedonian citizens still remember the recognition of independent sovereign Macedonia by the then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, a time of exceptional German leadership in the period when the Balkans lived its darkest days.

“We recognize that German leadership even today, when we receive serious, sincere and open support precisely when the Macedonian citizens are deciding for their country, their future. We recognized that leadership at the previous NATO summit in your strong support at the summit for Macedonia to receive the long-awaited invitation to join the Alliance” Minister Shekerinska said.

The Minister pointed out that Macedonian citizens have shown that they want change, that they want to live in a liberated, democratic society in which the rule of law exists and laws are freely expressed, and the media are a loud corrective of politics. She underlined that this was also an imperative for the Government – significant reforms have been made, and Macedonia demonstrated that it can be a partner and a contributor, and not an enemy to its neighbours.

“All reforms were wind at our back for our strategic goal – NATO and EU membership. For us, Macedonia in NATO and the European Union means stability, security, economic prosperity, flow of people, open borders, close cooperation with our neighbours, with Europe. Stable and secure Macedonia means stable and secure Balkans, and your significant support on this road shows that this is important for Germany and the European Union” the Minister said, adding that 30 September is a positive cornerstone.

“Now, all together, united and unified, we need to confirm that Macedonia will be part of the two most powerful alliances of today and that it will be a better, nicer and safer place to live. Your support on this road is of constant importance” Shekerinska concluded.

Minister von der Leyen expressed the support of the entire Federal Government for the continuation and development of Macedonia’s European perspective, adding that Europe and the world are facing major challenges, for which the real solution is cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic community. Fon der Leyen stressed that the upcoming referendum is a great opportunity and that she believed the citizens will take an active part in it.
“From our experience with the German unification, I can say that such opportunities are unique and that they should be used. I want to say that I am talking about a united, unified Europe and that we want to continue building Europe together with you” the German Minister said, adding that Macedonia and Germany share the same values – democracy, the rule of law, the dignity of every single individual, the right to freedom of expression.

Shekerinska and Fon der Leyen agreed that the bilateral defence relations are at the highest level, with regard to the training and specialization of ARM members in Germany, joint exercises and trainings and material support, as well as within the international missions of the Alliance where Macedonian soldiers stand side by side with their German fellow soldiers and colleagues from the other 19 allies.

Today at 11.30, the two Ministers will take part in a panel discussion organized by Konrad Adenauer Foundation on the topic “The Role Of Civil Society In the NATO and the EU Integration Processes” in Marriott hotel in Skopje.