Meeting of Deputy Prime Minister and MOD of the Republic of Macedonia, Radmila Shekerinska, and MFA Nikola Dimitrov with Alejandro Alvargonzález, NATO Assistant Secretary General and Maciej Popowski, Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission

The Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and Defence Minister, Radmila Shekerinska, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Dimitrov, discussed today on a working breakfast in the Members of Parliament Club with Ambassador Alejandro Alvargonzález, Assistant Secretary General of NATO for Political Affairs and Security Policy, and Maciej Popowski, Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission, who are on a first joint visit of the Republic of Macedonia.

The Republic of Macedonia and its Government are firmly committed to becoming the 30th member state of the Alliance, for which there is consensus among all political parties, as well as high support from the citizens of Macedonia, Ministers Shekerinska and Dimitrov stated.

“The Republic of Macedonia was in a serious political crisis in the past few years, but the citizens and the Government showed that if we have the will, if we are committed and firmly determined to continue on the path of reforms, we have the capacity to do this. In an extremely short period, the Republic of Macedonia managed to once again re-impose itself as a positive example in the region. We are making every effort to realize the reforms that are directed to every member of the Army, to the conditions in which he works, to his equipment, knowledge and skills”, the Minister said.

MOD Shekerinska stressed that it is important to mention that with the accession of the Republic of Macedonia, NATO will have another member who has the capacity to contribute to the efforts of the Alliance for peace and security on a global level. This, Shekerinska said, is also visible through our long-standing participation in the NATO mission in Afghanistan, “Resolute Support”, where we recently raised the Macedonian contingent by 20 percent.

The Minister added that the Ministry’s budget has been increased, but also that those funds are being spent rationally and economically. She informed that at the moment the Ministry of Defence is actively working on the Strategic Defence Review, and that this document will be the basis for further reforms and the direction to which the Army of the Republic of Macedonia will develop. “Through the Strategic Defence Review (SDR), a picture will be shown of the real needs of the defence and what the Republic of Macedonia will be able to provide. The SDR will help in the defence modernization process by defining the right priorities”, Shekerinska said. In that context, the Minister thanked the NATO – Alliance and its member states, in particular the United States, Great Britain and Germany, for their support in the creation of a quality strategic document. Shekerinska stressed that Macedonia wants to also be a good neighbour, because only a connected and stable region can be a prerequisite for development.

Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov reaffirmed the determination of the country for the accelerated membership in NATO as one of the top priorities of the foreign policy of the Republic of Macedonia. He argued that the Republic of Macedonia has long acted as a de facto member state of the Alliance, especially in sharing joint responsibilities with NATO member states. In addition MFA Dimitrov especially emphasized the successful cooperation within the NATO mission in Afghanistan and our commitment to a long-term contribution in the preservation of international peace and security. “As a responsible member of the international community and a long-standing committed partner of the Alliance, the Republic of Macedonia will increase its participation in the “Resolute Support” mission by 20%, Minister Dimitrov said.

Minister Dimitrov underlined the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia to stay in the reform process within the MAP process, in order to further enhance the country’s political, defence and security performance, which leads to a full and rapid integration of the country in NATO.

NATO Assistant Secretary General Alvargonzález said that a year ago they were worried of the crisis in Macedonia and encouraged the leaders to give their maximum in the direction of reforms. He also added that the Government of the Republic of Macedonia should be proud of what it is doing for the country and the future of its citizens.

The two guests, Alvargonzález and Popowski, acknowledged the reforms implemented by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, as well as the contribution to the missions “Resolute Support” in Afghanistan and ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina.