New 130 soldiers are as of today part of the professional composition of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. The Minister of Defence, Radmila Shekerinska, addressed the third class of new professional soldiers on the ceremony in the Ilinden barracks, and the event was also attended by the Chief of General Staff of the ARM, Major General Vasko Gjurchinovski, and Deputy Minister Bekim Maksuti.
“Welcome to the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. You are another proof that what we promise, we deliver, that what we have announced, we can fulfil. I announced that in 2018 the ARM will rejuvenate and will be strengthened with 375 new professional soldiers. You will be the new energy, the new motive, the new capacity of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. You will be another proof and another reason for the safety, security and tranquillity of the citizens of our homeland”, the Minister said.
Shekerinska stressed that Macedonia has broken down the barriers, received the invitation for NATO membership, started and completed the accession talks. “The invitation to NATO is our biggest success this year for the defence and the state, and for me a dear success is the resolution of one of the long-standing problems, the problem of elementary and logistical support, the problem called boots and uniforms”, the minister said. She informed that the delivery of 7,000 pairs of boots to every member of the Army has been started, and an agreement was signed for 14,000 new uniforms, i.e. two sets for each soldier.
Referring to 2018, Shekerinska said wages this year were finally increased by 10 percent, and a 5 percent increase is planned for the next year. The budget, she said, was increased by 15 percent in 2018, and will grow 33 percent in 2019.
“For all our plans, for all the modernization, equipment, improving the conditions for your work, money is needed. Therefore, for this and next year, we have shown that we do not deviate from increasing the defence budget. For the defence and the army there will be more money in the future as well. I assure you that our real priority is to achieve the NATO – goal, 2 percent of the gross domestic product to be allocated for the needs of the defence, which primarily means for the needs of the ARM. We are doing this not because NATO is seeking it from its member states, but because you, because the army, because the defence of the state deserves it. These funds are a way for you to be more successful in your work, how Macedonia can sleep peacefully, and how you can calmly fulfil your obligation”, Shekerinska said.
The Minister stressed that in terms of the ethnic structure, the Army represents Macedonia, as it is – an ethnically diverse and richer country.
“Among you and your colleagues who were admitted this year, there are Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Roma, Serbs, Bosniaks and Vlachs. This diversity is our unique advantage not only for Macedonia, but for the ARM as well, because each of you brings different experiences, traditions, but also shares the same values, the same motive and the same desire, to be part of the developed world… We also have variety in terms of gender representation – out of a total of 375 professional soldiers, 48 are women”, the minister said.
With the admission of this, 3rd class of professional soldiers, the plan for admitting 375 professional soldiers to the Army in 2018 has been fully realized, which directly affects the reduction of the average age of the ARM members by three years, but also for its greater functionality and its capacities to guarantee what is most important for the citizens of Macedonia – safety, security, stability.