Gen. Scaparrotti as part of his visit to Macedonia on Thursday attended an exercise at Ilinden barracks alongside a delegation of the Ministry of Defense and the Macedonian Army, led by Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska.
- Through your long partnership with NATO, your nation has already achieved significant progress in defense reforms and military interoperability with the allies. Acknowledging the historic Alliance invitation to begin accession talks to join NATO, we recognize that challenges remain and that there is much work ahead. At the same time, we look forward to providing our practical support to your military authorities in the accession process. We are confident that addressing these challenges and successful accession to the Alliance will be met with significant benefits to you. The countries that have joined the Alliance have been enabled to strengthen their democracy, boost their security and make the lives of their citizens safer," Scaparrotti noted.
The visit of the NATO top military official shows how much things are changing in Macedonia after getting the NATO invitation on July 11, according to Minister Sekerinska.
"Today, we are hosting the first military official of NATO in Europe on his first trip to Macedonia. This accelerated dynamic demonstrates Macedonia's strong determination to become the 30th member of NATO in a swift and intensive process," she stated.
At the moment, Sekerinska said, it is important that we confirm and provide the 25-year commitment of the citizens of Macedonia to NATO membership and one of the key steps involves the September 30 referendum.
"In the referendum, we expect the citizens to acknowledge their interest, the interest of the Republic of Macedonia, the interest of the nation and future generations and to vote Yes. The choice is clear, future or isolation, membership in NATO and the EU or yet another lost decade," Minister Sekerinska stressed.
Later in the day, Gen. Scaparrotti is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.