Today, Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska addressed the Army members at Ilinden Barracks in Skopje, in the eve of the ratification of the NATO Accession Protocol and the voting on the Defense Law amendments.
In contrast to the situation we faced two and a half years ago – a neglected and demoralized army, a defense budget in a free fall, low salaries, poor working conditions, we made a breakthrough in just two and a half years – the Minister said.
- In that period, I made three decisions. First, I requested a defense budget increase, I requested a serious review of the Military Service Law and the Defense Law, and I proposed changes that would fit a NATO Army, and third – I decided to revive with high adrenaline doses the stifled NATO accession process in our country. Today, in eager anticipation of two important decisions of our Assembly, I can truly and proudly say to you that together we have made a breakthrough. We made a breakthrough because we showed that we can invest more and better both in defense and in the Army”, Minister Shekerinska said.
In just two years, Shekerinska said, we showed that salaries can grow in continuity and with the monthly rent allowance of 7,500 Denars that each Army member will receive as of next month, the monthly income will increase significantly.
“That means that if two, two and a half years ago, a professional soldier with the lowest salary brought home every month 20,000 Denars, as of next month his/her total income will go up to over 30,000, which more than 50%,” the Minister said.
Shekerinska said that the retirees will no longer envy their colleagues from the MoI, because with the amendments to the Military Service Law every Army member will retire with 80% of his/her 10 best years.
The Minister referred in particular to our members participating in missions, for whom the monthly salary, especially for professional soldiers and NCOs, has been increased by 500 to 700 Euros, and she said that certain problems have already been overcome in terms of equipment and logistics.
- Last year we provided for the first time new boots for every member of the Army. The delivery of uniforms for each member of the Army will begin this February. Some will say whether we should even talk about basic things like boots and uniforms and I agree, but we talked about this problem for 10, 15 years without actually solving it. The delivery of sports equipment to the Army members will begin this week as well – the Minister said.
The Minister also reminded the members that the Army, which always helps the citizens in times of crisis, has received new engineering machines after 16 years.
She congratulated the teams that made it possible to sign an agreement with the US government for the procurement of more than 150 armored vehicles, so that the Army will receive equipment resembling thus a real NATO Army.
Minister Shekerinska expressed her gratitude to all Army members because NATO membership is actually their success.
- Thanks you for what you have done, we have done our part of NATO membership tasks. I expect the Defense Law to be supported in Parliament as well. We are literally days, not years, not months, away from NATO membership, and it is our and your great success – said the Minister.
In a statement to the media, Minister Shekerinska said that the breakthrough and the changes are also visible in the interest expressed in the last announced competition for the recruitment of new professional soldiers. Around 750 candidates applied for the 70 work posts.
- “The young have seen this breakthrough and really see the Army as a chance to work and build their careers, where they will be paid appropriately and where their labor will be valued,” she said. This is the greatest compliment for the Government and for all of us, that we have managed in just two years to make a breakthrough that the country and the Army fully deserve – said Shekerinska.