Meeting of Shekerinska – Matiss: We don’t wish to see you stopped at NATO’s doorstep

Macedonia and the United States have a firm strategic partnership. The United States appreciates the steps that Macedonia takes towards NATO and doesn’t wish to see Macedonia stopped at NATO’s doorstep – was said at the official meeting of the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Macedonia, Radmila Sekerinska, with the US Secretary of Defense, James Matiss, in the Pentagon.

At the beginning of the meeting US Secretary of Defense James Mattis recalled Minister Shekerinska’s words at NATO’s Defence Ministerial on the challenges facing the West.

“you were both persuasive, and your words even dominated the discussion, powerfully reminding us of our responsibility to defend our values”, said Matiss.

He said that the United States appreciates the commitments Macedonia takes as a NATO partner – the deployment of troops to the “Resolute Support” mission in Afghanistan, the contribution to the Defeat ISIS Coalition, and the decisive decision to allocate 2% of GDP for defence.

“We do not take your efforts for granted. They affirm the prudential decision taken at the 2008 Bucharest Summit to invite Macedonia to join NATO as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached with Greece. We commend your work with Greece to resolve this issue, and I’m hopeful it will bear fruit soon. We don’t wish to see you stopped at NATO’s doorstep. Today’s security environment requires a spirit of amity among all who stand for freedom, of basic human rights and respect for the international rule of law”, Matiss said.

Minister Shekerinska expressed appreciation for the firm support that Macedonia receives from the United States and recalled the strong consensus in the country since its independence, for membership in NATO.

“Let me assure you that Macedonia is ready to become a NATO member. We have recovered very quickly from our protracted political crisis, and after a strong reformist push, we are seen now as the source of hope in the Balkans. We have engaged in defence – important defence reforms and we have increased our contributions to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. We have proven to be a dedicated and reliable partner, and we aim to be also such an ally. Therefore, allow me to ask for your support, as Macedonia’s strategic partner for our NATO membership. An invitation for Macedonia this July will support us in our strategic goal, will help the region in building long-lasting stability, and will also increase the U.S. and NATO leverage and readiness”, Minister Shekerinska said.

This is the first meeting of defence ministers of Macedonia and the United States after 6 years, and is being realized in a crucial period, just two months ahead of the Summit of the Alliance in July in Brussels.