Shekerinska on the “NATO and YOU” panel: Macedonia’s membership in the Alliance will guarantee security and will enable economic growth

Today, on the occasion of the NATO Day, the Ministry of Defence organized a “NATO and YOU” panel where Defence Minister Radmila Shekerinska, Finance Minister Dragan Tevdovski, US Ambassador Jess Baily, Croatian Ambassador Danijela Barišić and the head of the NATO Liaison Office, Navy Captain Gorazd Bartol, discussed what the NATO Alliance represents, why Macedonia wants to be a part of it and what are the benefits of membership for the state and for the Macedonian citizens.

“Macedonia wants to be part of the Alliance because NATO is one of the most successful alliances in the history of mankind. Half of the world’s economic power, but also half of the military power is that of NATO. Military power does not mean that the Alliance has the capacity to attack, but that it has the capacity to guarantee collective security and collective defence”, Minister Shekerinska said.

Shekerinska addressed two questions – why Macedonia wants and why it can be a NATO member, stressing that this is a consensual determination of the citizens, but also of the political parties. “If you look at the list of countries with the highest quality of life on different grounds, you will see that out of the top ten of each list, eight are NATO members, one is a NATO partner, one is surrounded by NATO members”, the Minister said. She added that for Macedonia, NATO membership will guarantee the security and will enable economic growth.

The Minister also referred to the fact that according to the Washington Treaty that was signed on this day, any country that can contribute to collective security and which shares the same values – the rule of law, democracy, freedom, may become a member state.

“It is very important that in the last ten months we have shown that the democratic fibre in Macedonia has not been lost”, she said. She pointed out that today in the media, instead of propaganda, there is criticism towards those who have responsibility, that in the judiciary challenges exist, but that politicians are no longer above the law, that the Government does not escape debates and discussion and that it introduces transparent working.

The Minister reminded of the words of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said in the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia that the Allies were impressed by the reforms that our country have done and are still doing.

Regarding the opportunities for development of the army profession, especially as part of NATO, the Minister stressed that there is no other profession that offers so many opportunities for advancement and for training in many countries, such as the Army, and called upon all young people to apply on the public call for admission of professional soldiers, which is in progress.

Finance Minister Tevdovski stressed that Macedonia’s priority is NATO membership, and this can be seen through a significant increase in the defence budget, the first after a long period. He added that the membership will bring serious economic benefits to Macedonia because NATO represents collective security for member states, and security and safety are much more important for investors than all other conditions. “NATO is an anchor of security and the examples from our neighbourhood show a serious increase in investments after their entry into NATO”, Tevdovski said and cited Albania and Bulgaria as examples where investments doubled.

The Ambassador of the United States, Baily, pointed out that what this panel differs from the previous discussions is that it can now be said that there is a real opportunity for Macedonia to soon become a NATO member and he said that Macedonia’s participation in missions of the NATO – Alliance is praised.

Croatian Ambassador Barišić stressed that NATO is not only a military alliance, but a political alliance and an alliance of common values. She added that we all want to live in a democratic world, a world where the rule of law governs and that it is possible only in a secure environment, for which NATO partners are required.

Navy Captain Bartol, the Head of the NATO Liaison Office in Skopje, noted that the Alliance was an organization of 29 member states and expressed hope that very soon it would become an organization that will be joined by the thirtieth.

The panel was opened with an introductory address by the National Coordinator for NATO, Stevo Pendarovski, the President of the Atlantic Treaty Organization, Fabrizio Luciolli, and the President of ATA Macedonia and NATO Advisor to the Prime Minister, Ismet Ramadani.

The panel is in co-organization with ATA Macedonia, NATO – the Liaison Office and the Croatian Embassy in the Republic of Macedonia.