“Macedonia is consistently working on reforms and fulfilling all conditions for NATO membership. After only a year, we managed to prepare the key document that defines the defence and its development. The Strategic Defence Review is practically the entire reform agenda of the defence of the Republic of Macedonia, and its preparation is a very important step forward for guaranteeing our security, but also for our NATO membership”, Minister Shekerinska said at a press conference after the adoption of the document.
Macedonia did not wait for NATO’s invitation to start the necessary reforms, Shekerinska said, adding that in the past 12 months they were working hard. She pointed out that the defence budget has increased and will continue to increase every year, up to the required 2 per cent of the gross domestic product, that the salaries of all members of the Army have increased since the beginning of the year, thus improving their standard.
Regarding the development policies that are planned with the Strategic Defence Review, Minister Shekerinska said that one of the priority goals of this document is the creation of a modern and flexible army that will guarantee the stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Macedonia.
“With the new concept, we design the organization with a consolidated number of commands and staffs, with clearly defined levels of responsibility, with delegated authority at the appropriate level, rather than the hitherto centralization, and optimal size and full manning of units”, the Minister said.
The Minister announced that the Ministry of Defence will be reorganized in order to provide better management, better operational management and focus on key functions – providing defence, providing strategic decisions and civilian control of army forces.
One key commitment is the growth of the defence budget, and the true strength of the Army will be based on highly trained professionals who will have the necessary equipment, in accordance with NATO standards. The Army’s contribution to international operations will continue, and the declared units that are preparing to be used within NATO, EU, and UN missions, will be the focus of the modernization process.
“A year ago when Montenegro became a NATO member, I congratulated them and said that our goal is for Macedonia to become the 30th member state of the Alliance. It sounded like a good wish, but today it is a reality that is within reach. Next week Macedonia will receive an invitation to join NATO. This means that in just a few months Macedonia will start the process of ratifying the accession protocols and that from that moment it will begin to participate in all NATO meetings and will be part of the Council of the Alliance. In just a few months we have received a chance to be at the table where decisions are being made”, the Minister of Defence said.
“NATO membership means a secure future, but also reliable economic progress and development, and the figures clearly show it”, the Minister of Defence concluded.