Shekerinska: Today we saw in the Macedonian sky that we are NATO

“Today, in the Macedonian sky, we could see that the thesis is correct – We are NATO. The Republic of North Macedonia became the 30th member of the NATO Alliance after almost thirty years of efforts. Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to celebrate our membership amid the coronavirus pandemic, but today’s event, this jointly coordinated action of our Army, together with NATO commands, together with the US Air Force, shows that integration is not only political but it also a realistic, military and defence integration”, said Defence Minister Radmila Shekerinska after today’s flyover of the US Air Force accompanied by the Hellenic Air Force.

The two US warplanes, accompanied by four aircraft of the Hellenic Air Force, performed a low flyover the capital today at around 11.35 am, in honour of our NATO membership. The planes came from the direction of the Skopje airport and flew over our capital along the river Vardar. Fans of military aviation could enjoy the view, and our citizens could see our alliance with the United States in action and their welcome of our country in NATO.

Minister Shekerinska thanked the United States and NATO for this gesture and said that membership in the Alliance was deserved and was the result of reforms and dedicated work of the Army and other institutions in the country. “Our investment in reform, in our NATO membership, has been demonstrated in the course of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. We will repeat today – as a result of our NATO membership, we are stronger together. “The thesis ‘We are NATO’ is no longer only a slogan. It is really, and a reality that has enhanced both the stability and the chances of economic growth of our country,” said Shekerinska.

In her statement, US Ambassador Kate Marie Byrnes said that today’s flyover is both an expression of our enduring support for North Macedonia as well as a gesture to welcome you as the 30th member of the NATO Alliance. “While our shared fight against COVID-19 has taken up much of the media coverage these past many weeks, we should not let it obscure the recent, historic achievements of this country – joining NATO and receiving the green light to begin accession talks with the EU,” said the Ambassador.

Colonel Valentin Ivanoski, Head of the Military Aviation Authority in the Ministry of Defence, explained that today’s flyover was a complex NATO Air Force operation involving two US aircraft and four F16 aircraft from the Hellenic Air Force. “The flyover was fully organized by the US EUCOM and conducted through the air operations centers, which includes our new air operations center, where all flights and coordination is carried out through the air control system. The planes flew from the southern elevation, after a long flight they entered the Bulgarian border where they were met by 4 F-16 aircraft of the Hellenic Air Force and together in a formation through Shtip, Veles, Petrovec airport flew over the City of Skopje,” explained Ivanoski.