The President of the Republic of North Macedonia and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Stevo Pendarovski, addressed today the central ceremony marking August 18th – the Day of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia
The integral text of the address of President Pendarovski is below.
Distinguished members of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia,
The holiday we celebrate today is an occasion to go back to 1943 when the first battalion in the national liberation struggle was formed on Mount Slavej. The continuity between the “Mirce Acev” battalion and our modern army is not only historical, but also valuable. During World War II, the Macedonian partisan units were part of the global coalition that opposed the fascist and Nazi evil. Apart from the realization of the most important goal – freedom, the partisan army was on the right side of history, thus providing our people with a worthy place among the winners of the war who created the new world order.
This year we became the 30th member of NATO – organization of democratic and prosperous states. Our membership is a result of the will of the vast majority of our citizens, as well as the efforts of several parliamentary formations and governments in the past three decades. It is indisputable that this is an exceptional historical achievement that guarantees our security and strengthens the internal cohesion of our multiethnic society.
The full-fledged membership in NATO would not have been possible without the continuous efforts and professional attitude of all members of the Army, without the people who are always the main dynamic force of the integration process. Our membership is the result of thorough defense reform, personal commitment of courageous women and men in our armed forces, and their participation in risky peacekeeping missions around the world.
In achieving our strategic goal, we have always had the consistent support of the member states. Among them, the support of the United States of America has a special place. From our independence till today, the United States has continuously helped us build a stable, secure and prosperous army and state. That is why today I awarded the Order of Military Merit to the United States Office of Defense Cooperation. The Order is a symbolic expression of the gratitude of the Macedonian people to the United States of America and the friendly American people for all the support over the past decades.
It is not a phrase to say that being part of the most powerful military-political alliance in the world is a great privilege, but also an even greater obligation to our citizens and our allies. The main reason why we want to be part of the European Union and NATO is because of the fundamental values of these two communities. The key values there are the rule of law and a functioning rule of law as basic conditions for economic and social development. Organized crime and high corruption, which, unfortunately, are part of our everyday life, undermine the citizens’ trust in the institutions and the hope for a decent life.
The most important responsibility of our political generation is to establish a system for effectively dealing with crime and corruption. I am deeply convinced that our political legacy will depend most on the success of this task. History will not forgive us if we are not on the right side this time again as we were during World War II.
Without trust in the institutions, we risk our national security. The low reputation and disappointment of the citizens from the politics and from us, the politicians, create an ideal environment for new ways of undermining stability and security, such as hybrid threats. The best way to combat misinformation, fake news and other hybrid threats is the high level of citizens’ trust in democratic institutions. And that trust is earned only through responsible politics and uncompromising fight with those who break the law, regardless of their function and power. If we are not all equal before the law and if political power is used for personal rather than public good, the state has no perspective.
NATO membership raises the responsibility of the Army to a much higher level. Since March this year, our uniform and name have been an integral part of this global alliance. Therefore, we must continue to invest in defense, to modernize and equip the Army, and for that you will always have my personal support.
My top political commitment as Commander-in-Chief, and I expect that from the new government, is to achieve the set goal in the coming years of investing at least 2% of GDP in modernization and development of the Army. This commitment, together with the new government and the new parliament, will be actualized, especially in the next year’s budget preparations. In this context, I would like to emphasize that the continuity of our active participation in peacekeeping missions led by NATO, the European Union and the United Nations is indisputable, thus contributing to global peace and security.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The new security challenges for our country and for the NATO alliance should be seen in the conditions of the pandemic caused by the Corona virus. It is obvious that the pandemic caused not only a health crisis, but also a political, economic and security crisis. The hybrid threats I have mentioned are just some of the threats aimed at undermining the stability of the states, shattering trust between allies, and weakening national and joint efforts to defeat the virus. Since the beginning of the crisis, one of the main goals of the allies, and thus our goal, was and remains to be – the health, economic and social crisis not to grow into a security threat.
In recent months, we have had the opportunity to see the resilience and adaptability of the Alliance in these conditions of deep global crisis. NATO is doing this successfully on many levels. It builds member states’ resources to deal with risks, including epidemics, as well as the capacity to combat rapidly increasing disinformation campaigns. NATO also provides full logistical support for the transport of necessary medical equipment to member states and facilitates an exchange of medical supplies and personnel. As a full-fledged member, we are already part of NATO’s coordination mechanisms for dealing with the pandemics and hybrid threats.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the national level, the Army also plays an important role in the fight against the virus. Therefore, today, with the Order of Military Merit, I awarded two units of the Army that have achieved remarkable results. In addition to their engagement in peacetime in the country and in international missions, these two units also provided great support to other institutions, especially to the Ministries of Health and Interior and to the units of local self-government, even in the conditions of a declared state of emergency.
The Third Infantry Battalion of the First Infantry Brigade of the Tetovo Operations Command had a successful mission in the declared crisis regions in the municipalities of Debar and Centar Zupa. The Military Medical Support Battalion of the Logistics Base, in addition to taking care of the health of the members of the Army on a daily basis, made its hospital available to the Infectious Diseases Clinic and hired medical staff to support the COVID Center of the City General Hospital “September 8th”. By decorating these two units, we symbolically pay tribute to all members of the Army who have been engaged in dealing with the consequences of the pandemic in the recent months.
As your Commander-in-Chief, I am particularly proud of the demonstrated high professionalism, discipline and dedication in these difficult times. Your willingness to help when most needed is an example to our entire community. It obliges us to continue investing in the Army, its equipment and armaments, but, above all, in your human potential and in your standard of living, because the army is not made up of facilities, but the people on whom our security and stability rests.
Distinguished Members of the Army,
This is a great day for our Army and for all of us. For the first time as a NATO member, we celebrate August 18th – the Day of the Army. For the first time, together with our Army, our NATO allies are symbolically celebrating this day.
Happy Army Day!
May our state be eternal!