“With the Final Integration Conference between North Macedonia and NATO, our ‘test period’ in NATO is over. We have met the conditions for military integration and become an equal member in all military parts of the Alliance”, said Defence Minister Radmila Shekerinska at today’s Final Integration Conference, thus completing the process of military integration of North Macedonia into NATO, which began two and a half years ago when the invitation for membership was extended.
Congratulating the team from the army and the defence structure that with its NATO colleagues accomplished all 193 tasks of the integration plan, the Minister said that the successful integration showed that North Macedonia is a credible member of the Alliance that stands by its word and has the ability to honour its commitments.
“This was possible only because of the great activity, great energy, effort and results of the people in our army, but also in our defence structure, who together with their NATO colleagues literally accomplished all 193 tasks that were part of our integration plan item by item”, said the Minister. She added that this was a process that many thought would take longer, but that even in conditions of a pandemic we have shown that as a country we take our responsibilities seriously and conscientiously.
“We repudiated the sceptics in the best possible way, with results, a lot of work and in the end a visible epilogue, and that is the full military integration of North Macedonia into NATO”, said Shekerinska.
The tasks that were part of the military integration referred to laws and bylaws and new doctrines, a new organization, but at the same time a modernization of the structure and equipment of the Army. The Minister emphasized that the development process will continue – 22 projects have been planned, some of which have already been completed, some have started, and some of them will be implemented by 2028.
“In addition to the engineering machines that we have already procured, apart from the infantry vehicles that are in the process of procurement and we have been practically paying for them as of 2019, we have also planned new armed systems, which we provided for the light infantry, we have also provided new CBRN, as well as new ballistic protection. The process continues with the provision of funds for the artillery, air defence equipment and of course the part that refers to the new helicopter units, equipment that we plan to procure from 2024 onwards and the constant investment in cyber defence,” informed the Minister.
The Deputy Chief of the General Staff, General Azim Nuredin, noted that during this two-and-a-half year period, the Integration Working Group held several conferences and meetings and the momentum provided at the outset did not halt, although the global pandemic was a challenge throughout the process.
Colonel Francesco Pacillo from NATO, Chairman of the Integration Working Group, expressed his congratulations on the full military integration of North Macedonia into NATO and said that all members of the working group were extremely committed and made a strong contribution to this important goal.
Tomorrow, the Chief of the General Staff, General Vasko Gjurcinovski, and Allied Commander Transformation, General Philip Lavigne, will sign the Joint Declaration with which North Macedonia will be formally fully integrated into the NATO Alliance.