Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Radmila Shekerinska continues her visit to the United States aiming to accelerate the ratification of the NATO Accession Protocol. After meeting with her US counterpart Patrick Shanahan and US senators, she met with European Affairs Director William Berkley and the Adviser to US Vice President Mike Pence, Laura Gabriel Kovan at the White House.
The senior officials of the White House conveyed the strong US support for Macedonia’s NATO membership and congratulated the Government on its “strong and inspiring leadership – an example of courage, sacrifice and focus on the future”, which as they said, provided arguments to win the support of the greatest skeptics through reform processes and strong political will.
At the meetings with senior State Department officials, Michael Murphy and Stanley Brown, Shekerinska received congratulations on the Prespa Agreement, which represents our country “as a success story of the Balkans and entire Europe.”
They highly assessed defence reforms and called them strong arguments in favour of the efforts to accelerate the ratification of the Protocol. State Department Assistant Secretary Michael Murphy underlined that the announcement for achieving 2% of GDP for defence and the allocation of 20% of the defence budget for modernization are reform measures that are supported both by the Republicans and Democrats in the United States.
The influential think tank “German Marshal Fund” organized a debate with the Minister, at which she explained her efforts for faster ratification of the Protocol. “It is important that success is confirmed as a strong message for the entire region” Shekerinska said.
“The countries that have already ratified our NATO Accession Protocol are all from our region, which is a huge change compared to 20 years ago. I think that we have all learned the lesson that if we want our country to be better and safe, we should desire the same for our neighbours. It is a great victory, not only for us, but also for the region. We are counting on a fast and efficient ratification process, we expect to become a full member of NATO soon, we are working hard on domestic defence reforms, rule of law, media, intelligence sector reforms, and we count on the EU as well – to deliver at their Summit in June . Great success can be a signal and an example for the region “- said Shekerinska.
She said that at the Pentagon and State Department meetings it was announced that the preparations for ratification of the Protocol are under way. The Senate has the hope that the process in the United States will begin in the fall, in order for the ratification to be completed before the NATO Summit in London.