NATO Liaison Office Skopje (NLO Sk) is a non-tactical mission and consists of military and civilian personnel, located in the Host Nation (HN) Ministry of Defence (MoD). According to its Terms of Reference, NLO Sk should advise the governmental authorities on Defence aspects of Security Sector Reforms (DSSR) and NATO membership, in order to contribute to the country’s further Euro-Atlantic integration. The NAT, an organizational unit of the NLO Sk, has been formed for that exact purpose.
In general, the NAT is involved in all levels of the national transformation processes, and has regular contact with the government leadership and other agencies (MoD, MoI, MFA, etc.), but mostly with the Defence and Military authorities. Also, we participate in regular meetings with the heads of EU, USA and OSCE missions, as guarantors of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. Our advice is mostly concentrated towards military and technical issues, however the political aspect is also covered by specialized advisors. NLO Sk is the official NATO footprint in the country, so our activities also aim to present and represent NATO in the country.
Captain Gorazd Bartol, Slovenian Navy, took over the position of Chief NLO Sk and Senior NAT Advisor in June, 2016. He commenced his tour of duty by meeting with the HN leadership: the President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defence and the Chief of the army General Staff (GS). He reiterated to the top leadership that NATO stands ready to assist and advise the country in any manner possible on its path to gaining full-fledged membership in the Alliance.
In the autumn of 2016 the NAT visited a series of formations of the HN armed forces, where we got acquainted with the situation on the ground, and also presented our team to military audiences around the country. This lengthy tour was a success, giving us a first-eye witness of the high level of training and preparedness of the army personnel, and the status of the DSSR within the armed forces.The DSSR is mainly fueled through the Membership Action Plan (MAP) cycle and the Partnership for Peace Partnership Goals (PfP PGs). The NAT advisors participated and offered expert advice in the drafting of the 18th iteration of MAP during Sep 2016, and also provided comments and support to the discussion on the Planning and Review Process (PARP) progress report, both in Feb 2016 and also in Feb 2017.
The most remarkable representational events in the past twelve months were the marking of the NATO Day (6 Apr 2016) and the annual NATO reception (Dec 2016), which were marked with high attendance and positive feedback.
Looking back, we can now say that the cooperation with the HN is on new tracks and getting under speed; NAT is readily accessible to all HN interlocutors and stands prepared to cooperate and assist the HN on its path towards the Euro-Atlantic integration.