Story by NATO Advisory Team
SKOPJE, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* - The Defence Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia met with NATO representatives in Brussels on Wednesday.
Defence Minister Radmila Shekerinska and Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Dimitrov of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia met with NATO Deputy Secretary General, Rose Gottemoeller, right before the meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC+1).
The NATO Liaison Office, as NATO representative and Chief of the NATO Liaison Office Skopje, Slovenian Navy Captain, Gorazd Bartol was also present for the meetings.
During the meeting, the stability and security of Western Balkans, the political situation in the country and the progress of the reforms made by the new government were discussed.
Gottemoeller expressed gratitude for the participation of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s armed forces in Afghanistan and said that the country is a valued NATO partner.
"The reforms that enhance rule of law, good neighborly relations in your multiethnic society are of benefit to all citizens,” said Gottemoeller. "The progress in implementing the reforms requires time and effort, but the reforms will be of great use to your country while you’re getting close to your Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”
Gottemoeller, also emphasized that NATO wants to see the country achieve its aspirations as successfully integrated state in stable and prosperous region.
"The NATO doors remain open and NATO will continue to support your nation on the path towards membership in the Alliance,” said Gottemoeller.
Dimitrov emphasized the new democracy in the country succeeded to accomplish the political change in conditions of institutional and even in moral crisis.
"We decided to invest in democracy so there is no repeat of the last years, we want free media, functional parliament, independent judiciary system, because as the NATO nations share the same values,” said Dimitrov. "We shall give the Alliance many reasons why the country shall become the 30th member of NATO. We see the region through a perspective, we will either succeed together or not. We are a country that builds bridges. We are proud of the agreement signed with Bulgaria, and we will continue to move region in a good direction, more experienced with the crisis and so the other can move forward.”
Shekerinska stressed that the country is a partner of NATO and it can be trusted. She also said that the government continues to be dedicated to return the country on the path to the reforms and membership in EU and NATO.
"We are here to complete the 17th cycle for membership in NATO,” said Shekerinska. "As Government, we are determined through the plan 3-6-9 to focus fully on the democratic reforms: rule of law, independent media, independent judiciary system, professional administration. Without democracy and the rule of law, all of our countries look less secure and less stable.”
She also said the Government has passed a decision that to develop the new defence strategy and new strategic defence review, which will provide frames of manners and policies, the country can deal better with the security challenges. She emphasized that army’s budget will be gradually increased starting with 2018. She informed that the government has approved 20 percent increase of the contribution to the mission "Resolute Support” starting next year.
Right after the press statements the ministers went to meeting of North Atlantic Council during which the 17th Membership Action Plan for membership of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the Alliance will be concluded.
*Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.