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SACEUR in Skopje

Minister, thank you very much.

Good afternoon.  It is an honor to be here today…a nation with a rich history that shares NATO’s interest for security in Europe.

We have just had some very productive discussions. . . NATO appreciates Skopje’s key role in promoting peace and stability in this challenging region. 

And Minister, I want to note that your troops, that their training and discipline that they displayed and also note they are using NATO standards, NATO procedures . . . it’s noted. And I applaud what they demonstrated today.

The Alliance also values Skopje’s contributions to NATO operations in Afghanistan. Your armed forces deployed troops in support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2014. 

Today, your troops are supporting the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, whose mandate is to train, advise and assist the Afghan Security Forces. 

I actually look forward to meeting some of those military members and personally thank them for their selfless service and commitment a little later today. 

Skopje’s willingness to take a leadership role in the Western Balkans is demonstrated by their participation in many regional initiatives to enhance cooperation and security. All this makes the Euro-Atlantic area safer and more secure. 

Through its long Partnership with NATO, your nation has already achieved significant progress in defense related reforms and military interoperability with Allies.  Acknowledging the historic Alliance invitation to begin accession talks to join NATO, we recognize that challenges remain and there is much work ahead.  We look forward to providing our practical support to your military authorities in the accession process.

We are confident that addressing these challenges and a successful accession to the Alliance will be met with significant benefits to you. Just as the Minister outlined.

Countries that have joined the Alliance have been able to strengthen their democracy, boost their security, and make the lives of their citizens safer.

In closing, I would like to thank Skopje and its people for their contributions in our shared security.  Your nation is building a bright future and is making progress

NATO shares your commitment to democracy, rule of law as well as security and stability in the region.  Your continued support is important not just for the Western Balkans, but for the whole of Europe. Thank you very much and I look forward to your accession as the 30thNation in NATO in the future.

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