We are working with full steam ahead and our Army capacities for protection against specific threats to state security are constantly evolving, Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska stated today, inspecting the newly arrived nuclear, biological and chemical defense equipment in Gjorche Petrov barracks.
Shekerinska pointed out that this equipment is exceptionally important as part of defense needs, and that it is equipment donated as part of the United States European Command Three-Three-Three program for strengthening our defense capabilities. She added that this is the first phase of the donation planned for this year, while the full donation will be completed in the course of 2020.
The equipment consists of protective masks and suits, mask filters, foot protection, protective boots, oxygen tanks for protective masks, megaphones for protective masks and air compressors, and the donation will include training as of the beginning of next year for all army members who will use the equipment.
Minister Shekerinska said the army and the state are ready for full membership of the Alliance, pending only three more ratifications, two of which are expected to be completed by the end of this month, and Spain’s ratification depends on the Spanish parliament considering that the country is currently in a pre-election period.
“As an Army, as a Ministry of Defense and as a state we have proven that we are partners and a future member on which the Alliance can count. We are taking action to comply with the recommendations for increasing defense spending, we have amended the Defense and Military Service Laws that are currently in parliamentary procedure, we have increasing not only salaries, but also the chances for career development and training of Army members and we are tackling problems that have persisted for many years” the Minister said. She said that last week she visited the premises of our country at NATO headquarters in Brussels, premises that will belong to our state, for which we will have full responsibility and expressed her expectation that the preparations will be completed early next year.
Shekerinska said that extraordinary efforts are being made to make the military profession even more attractive to young citizens, with new equipment, numerous training opportunities and increased financial injection for the Army.
“It was a positive sign that we were able to recruit almost 400 new young soldiers last year. This year I hope that the number will increase by 250 by the end of the year. Yesterday you heard that we have completely resolved the situation of 97 professional soldiers who turned 45 this year. We have provided good and well-paid jobs for all of them” the Minister said, adding that the same approach was applied for everyone in this process, without discrimination, without any problems and without politics.
We will enter NATO, the Minister concluded, as a member state proud of its achievement and success and added that all citizens are eager to see our flag in front of NATO headquarters. “It will also be our investment in future generations, who expect us to provide a secure future for them and an opportunity for more prosperity” Shekerinska said.
The Minister expressed her gratitude to the US representatives for the donation and said that the partnership between North Macedonia and the United States is real and long-lasting and one of the reasons for our country becoming part of the Alliance.