Chief of General Staff of the ARM Major General Vasko Gjurchinovski
Dear Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense SHEKERINSKA,
Distinguished Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Lieutenant General Steven SHEPRO,
Dear Generals, Admirals, Officers,
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the beginning, I would like to wish you all a warm welcome and to thank you for your presence on this joined visit, which is very important for us. In the following two days we will present to you a part of the activities that the Army of the Republic of Macedonia and the Ministry of Defense undertake in order to fulfill the conditions for NATO membership.
This visit of the military representatives of the NATO Military Committee is a first such visit of the Republic of Macedonia from its independence. It represents another important sign of how significant our country is for the peace and stability in the region and beyond, and at the same time it is a confirmation that the road we are taking is the right one.
The Army of the Republic of Macedonia is firmly committed to fulfilling the criteria for NATO membership and we are working tirelessly to bring the country towards full-fledged membership in the Alliance.
For years, the Army of the Republic of Macedonia has stood side by side with the armies of the NATO member states in a number of peace support operations around the world. Starting this year, our army has increased its participation in operations beyond our borders by 20%.
Our goal is to continue to increase this number in the future. So far, around 4,000 members of the Army have been part of the international peace support operations. The contribution to international operations remains our highest priority.
At the same time, I would like to emphasize that members of our Army are continuously participating in numerous exercises, trainings and exchange of experiences together with the armies of the Alliance member states. All these activities contribute for our army to achieve and maintain NATO standards.
We actively continue to work on reforms within the Army, which would ensure even greater professionalism and readiness among our ranks.
Additionally, I would like to mention once again that the new Strategic Defense Review has already been adopted and with its implementation the Army of the Republic of Macedonia will be transformed into a small, compact, flexible army that can respond to all challenges the Alliance will be facing, together with us.
The partnership and co-operation are a permanent process that needs to be constantly built and maintained. After all, the path to success is not easy, just like our profession, but the experience from the past, the firm commitment and endurance make us even stronger.
In the forthcoming period, the Army of the Republic of Macedonia is ready to start with the priorities of the capacity development goals and to fulfill all the tasks that will arise before us in a determined manner. With the full support and synchronized action with the Ministry of Defense, we will implement the modernization and optimization of the army resources for achieving full interoperability. Through the continuous budget improvement and the consolidated plan for equipping, we will enable the Army of the Republic of Macedonia to have modern assets and equipment needed for the declared units, as well as modern communication systems that will improve security in the cyberspace.
We worked hard, contributed to building world peace and fighting against terrorism, our commitment and determination is a full-fledged membership in the NATO Alliance and good relations with your valued countries. I believe that this is the path to success.
Thank you for your attention.