Today, the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, General Claudio Graziano visited the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff of the Army as part of his official visit to the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia, which is the first visit of a EU Military Committee Chairman to our country.
After being received with high military honours, General Graziano had a meeting with his host, the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Vasko Gjurchinovski as well as with the Minister of Defence, Radmila Shekerinska.
During the meeting, Generals Gjurchinovski and Graziano discussed the participation of the Army in the European Union peacekeeping operations, the transformation process and integration into NATO, as well as the support by the EU Military Committee for our processes of integration into the North-Atlantic structures.
During the meeting between the Minister of Defence and the guest they talked about the participation of our country in the international EU missions and training, as well as the cooperation. Both of them praised the continuous ratification process for the membership of North Macedonia into NATO and pointed out the hope that towards the middle of this month a decision for beginning the negotiations for EU membership will be made. Minister Shekerinska said that the mutual letter by the key people of the Union to the Member States to approve the negotiations is a strong message to our country and the region.
During the meeting, the contribution of the units of the Army in the EU led peacekeeping operations was presented and General Gjurchinovski pointed out that our participation and contribution in the mutual defence policy is an important instrument in the strengthening of the political dialogue with EU and that it is one of the elements of assessment by the European Commission of completing the criteria for EU membership.
General Graziano had only words of praise for the participation and professionalism of the members of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia in the peacekeeping operations and said that the enrichment of the mutual training and exercises will continue to stay open and improved during the future cooperation.
During the visit, the delegation will also visit the units of the Army stationed in barracks “Ilinden” and also, they will visit the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of North Macedonia.
The Army of the Republic of North Macedonia, as part of its strategy for EU membership, has declared units for participation in the EU peacekeeping mission ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina where we take active participation since 2006. More than 300 members of the Army participated in the mission and in 2008, 12 our members lost their lives in a tragic accident while they were coming back from this mission.
Besides ALTHEA, the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia also participates in the EU Battlegroups where in 2014, one declared infantry company participated actively in the exercise “Quick Lion” in Belgium.