Slovenian Navy Capt. Gorazd Bartol, Chief NATO Liaison Skopje, accompanied by the NATO Advisory Team Defence and Security Sector Reform, Governmental, and Country advisors, met the newly appointed Minister of Defence and Vice Prime Minister, Radmila Shekerinska – Jankovska, June 7, 2017.
As the minister welcomed the NLO Skopje members, she emphasized that membership in NATO remains a key strategic foreign policy priority of the country and that for this purpose the new government is firmly committed to conducting the required defence and security sector, as well as broader societal reforms, and to undertaking all steps that would lead towards full-fledged membership in the Alliance. Shekerinska stated that the political message of the 2008 NATO Summit was not positive for the country and that it had contributed to stalling and backsliding in the reform’s processes.
In respect to defence reforms, she underlined three key elements– reforms in the Army, with realistically set and reasonable timetables, modernization of the Army, and personnel management reforms aimed at enhanced professionalism and minimizing the influence of politics. In all these endeavours she stated that she expects support from the NATO Liaison Office Skopje, and more specifically from the NATO Advisory Team.
The Minister added that with the latest developments the country demonstrated that it has the capacity to return to the right path. She also confirmed that the optimism for NATO accession is growing but work is far from finished.
Bartol informed that NATO is returning the western Balkan region in its focus and that it remains committed to the development of all aspects of cooperation and support to the countries in the region. He underlined that his office stands ready for cooperation with the Ministry to fully support the reform’s processes in this area.
The participants agreed on meeting regularly, at least once a month, to further discuss ways to enhance future cooperation and the day to day business.
Story by NATO Liaison Office Skopje