“NATO membership for Macedonia is important for three major reasons – security, the economy and its growth, and the fact that NATO membership is the first and very important step towards accelerating the integration into the European Union” Minister Shekerinska said in the panel discussion. She added that security is like health – it never tops the priorities when we have it, but it can very quickly become of paramount importance when it is threatened.
The Minister stressed that NATO membership is seen as another confirmation that the citizens of Macedonia, our neighbors, friends, businessmen and foreign businessmen should not worry about the stability and security of the country.
“NATO membership also has an impact on the status, position and quality of the armed forces. We had discussions about various initiatives to improve the status of the ARM members, and this was the Government’s focus this year. With the increase of the defense budget, we increased the salaries of the ARM members, we paid all obligations under the Collective Agreements with the unions” the Minister said.
Regarding the economic benefit, the Minister underlined that the examples from the countries in the region show that the membership of the Alliance seriously affects the growth of economy, and the reduction of unemployment, especially for the young, and the increase of salaries in the mid-term. The Minister stated the example with Montenegro where in the first six months of this year, the amount of foreign investments is 2.5 times higher than last year in the same period. He added that these effects are also visible in the experiences of other countries after their integration into NATO, such as Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia.
The third benefit, Shekerinska pointed out, is that NATO membership is the first, important step for realistically entering the process of EU membership. It will politically accelerate the processes, Shekerinska said, adding that while it is not a matter of obligation, for a state with Macedonia’s profile, experience and history, the only way to quickly become a member of the Union is to join NATO as soon as possible .
Sekerinska said that on 30 September, each of us, as a citizen, will have a chance to help the state achieve these strategic goals.
Reinhold Robbe, a former German Army Attorney General also participated in the panel discussion. He said that he was optimistic and that Macedonia’s membership of NATO is a very important step for the stability of the entire region.