In anticipation of the NATO Summit, Minister Shekerinska held meetings with colleagues from the member countries of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.
The Minister also spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, on the sidelines of the meeting of the North Atlantic Council of NATO.
Shekerinska requested support for Macedonia’s NATO membership from her colleagues, pointing out that the present moment should not be missed because such an opportunity will not be repeated any time soon.
On the meeting with German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, it was concluded that the cooperation between the two countries is at a high level and with mutual understanding. Shekerinska expressed gratitude for Germany’s continued support in the defence reform processes and for entrance in NATO. At the meeting with the Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Belgium, Steven Vandeput, the high-level cooperation was confirmed and it was concluded that it should be deepened and intensified in continuity.
On the meeting with the Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ank Bijleveld- Schouten, Shekerinska expressed satisfaction with the Dutch support for Macedonia’s membership in NATO and stressed readiness to intensify the cooperation. This afternoon Shekerinska will meet with Italian Minister Elisabetta Trenta.
Macedonia was pointed out as a good example for fulfilling the obligations on the road to Euro-Atlantic integrations and as a positive signal for the region.
Shekerinska’s joint message to all ministers was that Macedonia deserves to become the 30th member of NATO. “We have introduced a new spirit in relations with our neighbours. We have opened dialogue and we are solving all contentious issues. We signed an agreement on good neighbourliness and friendship with Bulgaria and we are on the road to resolve the 27-year old name dispute with Greece. We have no other unconstrained bilateral or border issues”, Shekerinska said in Brussels.
At the NATO meeting led by Stoltenberg, which was focused on the “Resolute Support” mission in Afghanistan, the Minister said that since the beginning of 2018, Macedonia has increased its participation and that the support will continue. Shekerinska informed the ministers and NATO Secretary General that the new democratic government in Macedonia undertook serious reforms in all areas, including the defence sector.
“Macedonia has come a long way and made a big leap in the integration processes, which emphasizes our credibility as a full member of the NATO Alliance in the near future. We hope for NATO membership, which will be an acknowledgment of our efforts and will strengthen the security of the region”, the Minister of Defence said.