Pendarovski: The US will ratify the NATO protocol in August

Yesterday was a day for high-level visitors at Krivolak base as part of the Decisive Strike exercise, where North Macedonia’s Army infantry battalion presented offensive alongside members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Decisive Strike is the largest military exercise to have been held in the country, including over 2,700 members of the Army of North Macedonia and the armed forces of the United States, Albania, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Lithuania – all NATO members.

“This exercise definitively puts Krivolak on the map of the best military training grounds in southeast Europe. It also showed that our troops are at the same professional level as those of the other NATO armies. It is yet another proof that our army is truly qualified to represent North Macedonia wherever global peace and security is being preserved. It’s also the best proof that our country should join NATO as soon as possible,” President Stevo Pendarovski said.

Four of the five NATO armies taking part in the exercise have already ratified North Macedonia’s Accession Protocol. The procedure for full ratification of the document is under way in the United States, according to him.

“Congress will most likely ratify the Accession Protocol in August, meaning the tempo leading to the London NATO Summit on Dec. 4 is excellent, when we expect to be rightfully admitted as a full-fledged member of the strongest military and political alliance in history,” Pendarovski told reporters.

Echoing the same sentiments, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said Decisive Strike 2019, one of the largest ever drills in the country, was being organized at one of the best training grounds in the region.

“I’m proud of all of our servicemen because they want to improve themselves and learn more. I know we are going to meet all of our expectations to have a dignified and proud army that will protect world peace shoulder to shoulder with our allies,” Zaev said at the event attended by top state officials and diplomats.

With our servicemen training alongside troops of five NATO countries, a message is sent that our country has never been so close to meeting its strategic goal – to become a NATO full-fledged member, according to him.

Defense Minister Radmila Shekjerinska said North Macedonia soon would become the 30th member of NATO. “It means we’ll sit at the same table, participate in joint exercises and joint peacekeeping missions. Here, today, we proved the skeptics wrong. North Macedonia has a lot to offer to the Alliance, trained and professional soldiers and officers as well as an excellent training ground,” he stated.

Speaking at the event, Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm said Decisive Strike was a powerful example of how North Macedonia’s forces were preparing to join NATO to work side by side with its allies in thwarting future threats.