Ministers of Defence,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a newcomer in this group, allow me to acknowledge the long-term efforts of NATO and partners, including my country, aimed at the security, stability and development of Afghanistan.
Since 2002, the Republic of Macedonia has continuously contributed to the security of Afghanistan, through the participation of more than 2,700 military personnel in the ISAF Mission and in the Resolute Support Mission. Currently, my country has deployed 39 military personnel as staff personnel, Force Protection (FP) unit, instructors and experts for training and advising in the Regional commands in Kabul and North.
While providing support to Afghanistan’s security and stability, Macedonia had unfortunately gone through a prolonged political crisis that brought us to the very brink of violent internal conflict. We have become a case study for the intrinsic link between democracy and stability: either develop both or lose both.
As the Vice PM and MoD I pledge to you today that the new Government is strongly committed to fulfilling the urgent reform priorities.
Membership in NATO as our genuine priority foreign policy translates into our enhanced commitment towards NATO lad operations and the NATO structures.
The new Macedonian Government will continue its contribution to this mission in 2018 and explore ways/possibilities of enhancing our presence in NATO and the NATO-led missions (RSM).
NATO has already invested heavily and wisely in Macedonia during our own internal difficulties. The full-fledged membership in the Alliance, sooner rather than later, is our priority and represents a key guarantee for strengthening regional security, stability and development in the light of the new security challenges.