Respected Chief of Staff,
Respected media representatives,
This is my first visit to the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff of the Army. This visit is essential, but at the same time symbolic. It is essential because, as President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, I have constitutional and legal competencies in the field of defense, but, at the same time it is symbolic, because the first institutions that will most directly become part of the most powerful military-political alliance of today are exactly the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff Army.
At the meetings with the Minister of Defense and the Chief of General Staff, we talked about the key steps that we need to take to be fully prepared for our NATO membership. As President, I will work closely with these two institutions. I will always want to hear the opinion of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff about the problems and challenges they face and I will get involved in finding the best solutions that will lead us forward.
The Republic of North Macedonia has made historic steps that brought us the invitation to join NATO. This accomplishes one of our top strategic goals. As a country, we should be prepared for this great honor and great responsibility at the same time. As President, I will insist on the ultimate readiness and professionalism of the institutions in this field.
I am pleased that, in the last year, the budget of the Defense has begun to grow and I encourage the Government to continue with this trend, with an even stronger pace. As a responsible NATO member, we will have to reach the standard of allocation of 2% for defense from GDP by 2024.
We have to invest in the Army through the implementation of thorough reforms in the security sector, to continue to build a professional, technically modern NATO army that will be ready not only to defend the territory of North Macedonia, but also to continue to actively contribute to the protection and construction of free and democratic societies outside our country. Investing in the Army implies investing in professional standards, as well as in the soldiers’ standard of living, which must be our priority.
In my inaugural address, I announced that all promotions in the scope of the Army will be in accordance with the laws and in accordance with the professional references of the candidates. We must have the best professionals in this area to get NATO membership as soon as possible.
Therefore, I encourage the members of the Army, officers, NCOs and soldiers to work on their own improvement, and the obligation of the leadership of these two institutions is to guarantee that. On this occasion, I would like to emphasize that I expect from all relevant political factors, all institutions of government, including the opposition, to provide their support to this effort, to show unity about the key strategic goals of the Republic of North Macedonia, which is in the interest of all citizens of our common state.