Meeting Shekerinska – General Lengyel: Macedonia deserves to sit at NATO’s table, the ARM is prepared

Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska met today with the Chief of the US National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel, who arrived on a visit to the Republic of Macedonia.

“At this moment, when we are talking about the difficult challenges that Macedonia faced in recent years, we must say that the visit is in a really excellent timing – at the very moment when Macedonia showed that it deserves its place in the NATO alliance … Macedonia’s partnership, especially with the Guard of Vermont, allowed the Army and its members all these past 25 years to create very strong ties that are characterized by respect, professionalism and great partnership” the Minister said after the meeting.

The Minister pointed out that we are only a couple of weeks apart from sitting at NATO’s table, which this country has long desired for and that with the signing of the agreement between Macedonia and Greece last year, as well as with the adoption of the constitutional amendments this year, Macedonia proved that it can get free from the burden that kept dragging us to the bottom for many years and did not allow us to take our rightful place in NATO. Shekerinska added that the success towards full membership in the Alliance is also due to the fact that the Army of the Republic of Macedonia was and is ready to become an army of NATO.

“When asked if the ARM was ready to become an army of a NATO member state, it was easy and simple for me to say yes, because the ARM has invested in its knowledge over all these past years, in its professionalism and this was made possible, among other things, with our many close ties with the United States, its Army and its national guards” the Minister said. She pointed out that the mutual cooperation is sufficiently reflected in the fact that about 5,000 ARM members have engaged in joint activities and that Macedonia and Vermont were a model of cooperation in 2010 when for the first time they deployed jointly their members to the Phoenix operation within the ISAF forces in Afghanistan. The Minister also mentioned the cooperation with the oldest Military University of Norwich, where a cadet from Macedonia was sent only a few days ago to continue her studies.

General Lengyel expressed his pride from the US National Guard’s partnership with the ARM to date, and said that he was looking forward to welcoming our country as the newest member of NATO in the near future.

“Your Army has deployed with our national guard and it was gthe first army to deploy in Afghanistan with us. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I can assure you that America’s top military leaders are aware of and thankful for Macedonia’s increasing military courage and prowess” the General stated. He added that the U.S. Military supports Macedonia on its path toward full Euro-Atlantic integration, including its efforts to join NATO and the European Union, implement judicial reform, strengthen its democratic institutions, combat corruption, and he welcomed the parliament’s vote to adopt the required constitutional amendments to fulfill Macedonia’s obligations under the Prespa Agreement..

As an example of the development of the mutual cooperation, Minister Shekerinska and General Lengyel mentioned this year’s joint exercise “Decisive Strike”, in which over 1000 members of the 56th Brigade of Pennsylvania and members of the ARM First Mechanized Infantry Brigade will take part.