Minister Shekerinska in the new premises of the North Macedonia Mission in the NATO Headquarters: NATO membership becoming reality, North Macedonia welcomed in the most powerful military and political alliance

Today, at the NATO Headquarters, Defence Minister, Radmila Shekerinska, visited the future premises of our country’s mission once it becomes a full-fledged member.

“Today, I had the opportunity to be the first representative of our government to enter the premises that the NATO Alliance has prepared for its 30th member. This shows that all our preparations are running according to plan and it shows that we are welcomed in the most powerful military and political alliance”, said the minister in a statement after the visit.

Minister Shekerinska added that the same message was repeated at the meetings with the defence ministers of all NATO member countries during the two days of meetings – the expectation that North Macedonia would become a full-fledged member of NATO, sooner rather than later, which is the right step, at the right time.

At the session of the North Atlantic Council, Minister Shekerinska said that the plan for earmarking 2 percent of the gross domestic product for defence by 2024 is underway and that another increase of the defence budget is set for 2020.

“The Republic of North Macedonia is a serious partner which delivers what it announces and what it promises. For the second consecutive year, we have increased the allocation for the defence. We have also earmarked a higher budget for the defence and our Army for next year. In this way, we will have more security, it this way we will be accepted as a country whose word should be taken seriously. We are NATO, and indeed, in the coming months we expect the realization of this strategic goal and the dream of several generations”, said Minister Shekerinska.

At the session dedicated to Resolute Support Mission, Shekerinska said that the country remains committed to democratization, security and peace in Afghanistan and that members of the Army will continue to contribute to this mission in which we have taken part since the beginning of the first NATO mission, ISAF, in 2002.

On the sidelines of the North Atlantic Council, the bilateral meetings with ministers of NATO member countries continued. Today, the Minister met with Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini, and the Minister of Defence of Austria, Thomas Starlinger.

At a meeting with her Italian counterpart, Minister Shekerinska thanked Minister Guerini for the constant support in the fulfilment of our two strategic goals – membership in NATO and the European Union. She added that the place of the Western Balkans is in the Union and that this has no alternative. Minister Guerini underlined that Italy regrets the conclusions of the EU Council which is the reason for bringing forward the Italian initiative to overcome this wrongdoing and start the negotiations. “The Republic of North Macedonia has transformed itself from a security consumer to a security provider”, said Guerini at the meeting.

At the meeting with the Austrian Defence Minister Starlinger, Minister Shekerinska discussed about the bilateral defence cooperation and the need for opening the accession negotiations with the EU, a process which has received strong support from the Austrian EU Presidency in the second half of last year.