Dear members of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia,
Congratulations on 18 August – Army Day!
Dear fellow citizens, dear guests,
On this day 18 August 1943 on Slavej Mountain the first battalion named after the
fallen fighter and people’s hero, member of the Central Headquarters of the people’s
liberation army and the partisan detachments – Mirche Acev was formed.
The creation of this first military formation is especially important and that is why
after the declaration of our independence 18 August was chosen as the day of the
contemporary Macedonian army.
In its beginnings, the Army started in modest and difficult conditions and environment. However, within a short period it consolidated, and in the mid-1990s it has started the structural reforms in order to transform into an army of a future NATO member state.
Membership in the Alliance has been strategic priority since the beginnings of our
independence, when the Resolution for the country to join NATO was passed, the
decision which in 1993 in the then Parliament was supported by all parliamentary
parties. In November 1995 we signed the Framework document for accession into
the Partnership for Peace programme and two years later we joined the Euro-
Atlantic Partnership Council. In June 1996 we opened the Liaison Office and at the
end of 1997 our Permanent Mission in NATO HQs in Brussels. In April 1999 at the
NATO Washington Summit we got a status of a country candidate for membership
and launched the Membership Action Plan.
Until today this strategic priority has been one of the largest cohesion factors in our
society, supported by a wide national consensus supported by all relevant political
parties, the vast majority of citizens from all ethnic communities and there has been
strong support by the civil society and the business community. After more than two
decades of reforms and solving the long-standing name issue dispute with Greece,
by signing the Prespa Agreement, we have come a step away to achieving the goal
which we worked hard for many years – Republic of North Macedonia becoming 30th
NATO member state.
Our army through tenths of rotations and participation of thousands of its members
has been and still is part of many international military missions, with long years of
presence in the international operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, ALTHEA in
Bosnia & Herzegovina and as a key segment from the status of country – supporter
to KFOR in Kosovo, demonstrating that we can be interoperable with the armies of
all partner countries and fulfil the obligations with the goal of contributing to collective
defence and security systems.
The road to NATO was paved by meticulous reforms, personal investments and
maximum dedication of generations of members of the armed forces. Men and
women who serve in our army and the administration that works to support the
completion of the defence reforms for all of these years have shown capacity, human
integrity and persistence, even in the moments when the defence budget was cut
and in the periods when politics distanced us from the NATO membership.
Many years ago, we have decided to accept the values of the North Atlantic Treaty
binding us to safeguard the “freedom, common heritage and civilisation of peoples,
based on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law” as the
basis of the system of collective defence and protecting peace and security. By
becoming a NATO member our responsibility towards the citizens and the allies will
increase. Rule of law is a necessary condition for functioning of democracy and the
development of free society. Thereto, our absolute priority is to elevate the rule of
law as a highest value for us and restore the trust in the institutions and the state.
Only in that way we will be a responsible and assuring partner for our NATO-allies.
Security and defence reforms are a never-ending process and we will continue to
work on them after the NATO membership. Dear soldiers and officers, as your
Commander in Chief I would like to tell you that you will always have my support for
equipment and modernisation of the armed forces and for improving the living and
work conditions. One of the priorities of these reform processes will be directed
towards the declared NATO units. I fully support the government efforts as a future
NATO member state for us to spend 2% of the GDP for investment in defence and
within my authorities I will do everything in order for us to achieve this in the
designated deadline – latest by 2024.
As Commander in Chief I will insist on improvement of your living and professional
standards. In the same way as you perform your tasks in a dedicated and
professional manner, in the same manner we the politicians should fulfil that
obligation towards you. Suffice to remember your selfless engagement in handling
the elementary disaster on the south border in facing the large migrant waves in
2015 and 2016.
The Transport Helicopter Squadron from the air brigade of the Joint Operations
Command is one of the units that we are proud of. The squadron has special merit
and exceptional contribution to strengthening the defence capabilities, safeguarding
the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of our country, as well as
successful representation and affirmation of the Army of the Republic of North
Macedonia on the international stage.
The effect of the Army reforms is a result of the comprehensive reform package we
have undertaken as a result of the strategic determination to become a NATO
member. We were not alone in that process. On that path we had an ally that
reminded us of the obligations, offered the best solutions and encouraged us to
continue with dynamic pace. For almost two decades the NATO Liaison Office in
Skopje has been supporting and assisting the defence sector reforms that were
necessary to achieve the high criteria and standards for achieving the full-fledged
membership in NATO. Thanks to the guidance and advice from our allies, the
reforms had an added value. That is why today we have effective and mobile army,
ready to face and execute the most complex tasks.
Those are the main reasons why I have decided to present the Transport Helicopters
Squadron and the NATO Liaison Office with Orders for military merit. That is our
gratitude for their efforts.
Dear members of the Army,
Many times you have justified the trust of our citizens and our allies. Therefore, on
their behalf congratulating you the Army Day I thank you for the professionalism,
dedication and discipline in performing your tasks.
Congratulations to all of us on the Army Day 18 August!
Long live the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia!
Long live North Macedonia!