Shekerinska – Appathurai: NATO strongly supports Macedonia in the process of accession in the Alliance

Today, the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Macedonia, Radmila Shekerinska, held a working meeting with the Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, James Appathurai, which was realized within the process of Macedonia’s accession talks in the Alliance.

On the meeting, Minister Shekerinska said that with full commitment, courage and determination, the Government worked on three important issues in the last year – the Agreement with Bulgaria, the Agreement on the name issue with Greece and the interethnic relations in the country. Regarding NATO membership, Shekerinska added that the teams in the Ministry are ready to begin the accession talks and that this process is moving according to the planned dynamics.

“The accession talks, which are one of the last steps before full NATO membership, will help us stay focused, work hard and choose the right priorities. With the elaboration of the Strategic Defence Review, as a key document, we started discussions on defence reforms and we are ready to implement them”, the minister said.

Shekerinska stressed that the focus of the defence from the very beginning has been improving the conditions for work of the members of the Army, and this is evident through the increase of the defence budget this year by 15 percent, and the plan for its further increase to the recommended 2 percent of the gross- domestic product. What is extremely important, Shekerinska said, is the way in which we will spend the funds in the defence, and in the next period our focus is to initiate modernization plans.

In congratulating Macedonia’s leadership in the region, Deputy Assistant Secretary General Appathurai stressed that the country has made a big turn in a short period of time and that Macedonia’s good neighbourly policy is telling for the neighbours as well, who gave strong support for the full membership of the country in the Alliance.

Appathurai agreed that it is extremely important how the defence budget will be spent and offered NATO assistance and support. He expressed his gratitude for the continued contribution of Macedonia to the NATO peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, which is recognized by all allies.