Deputy Minister Maksuti at the meeting of Western Balkan Defence Ministers in Austria: The decision on 30 September will affect not only Macedonia, but the entire region as well

Today in Graz, Austria, the Deputy Minister of Defence of the Republic of Macedonia, Bekim Maksuti, participated at the informal meeting of Defence Ministers of Western Balkans countries and Austria. The meeting was under the auspices of the Austrian Minister of Defence, Mario Kunasek, who briefed his Balkan counterparts on the conclusions of a recent meeting of European Union Defence Ministers in Vienna.

The meeting focused on the security cooperation of the countries of the Western Balkans and the European Union with the goal of strengthening security and stability. The Ministers’ meeting ended with a Joint Declaration stating strong support for the European perspective in the Western Balkans as well as joint action in dealing with security challenges and cooperation in the field of border protection from illegal migration to the EU.

“Macedonia faces the same security challenges and threats as the other Western Balkan countries and the rest of Europe. The Government of the Republic of Macedonia is convinced that stable and committed good governance and unconditional application of law can provide conditions for a safe and economically prosperous region”, the Deputy Minister said at the meeting.

Maksuti said that the citizens of Macedonia are at a crucial moment – the 30 September referendum will affect not only the security, stability and prosperity of the country, but the whole region as well. He stressed that the citizens of our country have shown that they want change, they want to live in a free, democratic society, where there is the rule of law, free expression, and the media is a loud corrective of politics.

The Deputy Minister added that with the signed agreements with Bulgaria and Greece, Macedonia has shown that it invests in good neighbourly relations and building bridges of cooperation, instead of hostility, and that this was also recognized by the neighbours and they have given full support for Macedonia’s membership in NATO and the European Union.

As key security challenges for Europe and the Balkans, Maksuti pointed to illegal migration, organized crime, terrorism, hybrid and cyber threats. He stressed that all challenges require a common response. “We are aware that security challenges flow from one country to another and no country alone can solve them”, the Deputy Minister said.